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Former fire college official enters guilty plea

BIRMINGHAM (AP) — A former deputy director of the Alabama Fire College has agreed to repay $328,000 after pleading guilty to federal charges of diverting taxpayer money and private donations for himself.

Robert Nix, 68, pleaded guilty Tuesday to charges of conspiracy and fraud. A judge set his sentencing for March 14, when Nix could also receive penalties including five years imprisonment and fines of $250,000 on each charge.

Nix was the second person to plead guilty in a continuing investigation of the state’s two-year college system, which includes the Tuscaloosa-based Fire College.

Nix’s plea, reported Wednesday by The Birmingham News, came a month after he and prosecutors reached a plea agreement. It outlined a scheme used to tap $519,500 meant for the fire-training school and the school’s private foundation. Besides working as deputy director, Nix also was a foundation board member and a member of the Alabama Fire College and Personnel Standards Commission.

Under the agreement, he is to repay $328,000 to the state and the foundation.

Nix has said he and former Fire College Director W.L. Langston used much of the money to buy personal items, including two Harley-Davidson motorcycles, a home theater system, a large screen high-definition television and home improvements for Nix.

In his plea agreement, Nix said the money was used to buy $11,000 worth of furniture and pay $14,000 in cell phone bills for Shelton State Community College President Rick Rogers, who remains on paid administrative leave.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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