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Former fire chief, wife sentenced for bilking woman

LONGVIEW, Wash. – Former Woodland Fire Chief Tony Brentin and his wife were sentenced Thursday for defrauding an elderly woman two years ago out of nearly $24,000.

The 52-year-old Brentin was sentenced to six months in jail and 48-year-old Shari Brentin was sentenced to a year behind bars.

A Cowlitz County jury found the couple guilty in March of theft by deception.

Shari Brentin convinced the victim that her cat was dying of cancer and persuaded her to hand over thousands of dollars for care, the Daily News reported. The cat, Mr. Socks, did not have cancer.

Tony Brentin persuaded the victim to give him $5,000 for a city council campaign, which he lost. He spent the money on rent. Brentin retired as Woodland fire chief in 2009.

Before passing sentence, Cowlitz Superior Court Judge Michael Evans said he read through letters from the Brentins’ numerous supporters in which words such as generous, kind, good, helpful and caring were liberally used to describe them.

He said he also noted the good works the couple have done in the community, and that they have no criminal history.

“I tend to agree: The Brentins have lived a good life,” he said. “They’re not the typical person I see in front of my court.”

But Evans said he has “a lot of concern” about crime that preys on the elderly.