Nickley sentencing postponed

Christina O'Haver, The Union Democrat

A former Columbia Fire Protection District chief who pleaded guilty to misappropriation of public funds will return to court next month for a restitution hearing and sentencing.

Randall Allan Nickley, 51, was scheduled to be sentenced in Tuolumne County Superior Court on Monday, and a restitution hearing was being discussed for a later date.

However, Judge Eric L. DuTemple said the amount of money Nickley agrees to pay could influence the sentence. DuTemple scheduled both hearings for April 26.

Nickley was scheduled to stand trial earlier this month but pleaded guilty at his readiness conference in February.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of four years of incarceration, but DuTemple indicated to attorneys at the conference that Nickley will not likely serve prison time, District Attorney Mike Knowles said.

The defendant has shown the court that he has "significant health problems," Knowles said.

Nickley, hired as Columbia fire chief in December 2002, was charged with one felony count each of misappropriation and embezzlement of public funds.

The charges included purchases, checks, misallocations, false claims and unusual loans between January 2007 and June 2011.

According to court documents, Nickley deposited a check for $27,616, donated by the Lyle R. Scott Revocable Trust, into an unreported account in October 2007 and began writing personal checks.

The district's Board of Directors conducted an internal investigation of Nickley after receiving complaints that he responded to a call with alcohol on his breath, board President Stan Steiner said. The board placed him on administrative leave in June 2011.

Nickley was arrested on Aug. 23, 2012, on a felony warrant at his home on the 11300 block of McKellar Drive. He was released from Tuolumne County Jail on $20,000 bail.

The restitution hearing and sentencing are scheduled for 1:30 p.m. in Department 2.

11898172
The Union Democrat
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