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Former Westminster police chief sentenced to 2 years in prison for embezzlement

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WALHALLA, South Carolina — A former police chief in Westminster has been sentenced to two years in prison for embezzling money that was supposed to be used to buy officers protective vests.

Johnny Scott Bannister, 46, pleaded guilty Monday in Walhalla to embezzlement and misconduct in office.

Circuit Judge Alexander Macaulay also ordered Bannister to pay restitution of nearly $114,000.

Prosecutor David Wagoner said investigators think about $200,000 was taken, but chose to use the smaller figure in pursuing the case.

Bannister apologized in court. He had been police chief in Westminster for 11 years. Defense attorney Druanne White said her client could not explain his actions.

Bannister was arrested in March 2013 after an investigation by the State Law Enforcement Division.

Westminster city clerk and treasurer Jennifer Adams said the embezzlement caused big problems.

"If it weren't for our community, our officers wouldn't have vests to protect them," Adams said.

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