Ex-Magnolia fire chief pleads guilty in public corruption case

Gary Vincent (Amanda Cochran, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office)

HOUSTON – A former Magnolia volunteer fire chief pleaded guilty to abuse of official capacity on Wednesday.

Gary Vincent was sentenced to pay a $4,000 fine and restitution to the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department, though that amount was not disclosed in a news release from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office.

Vincent was the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Chief for approximately 15 years.  On February 11, 2021, Vincent was placed on administrative leave due to a public integrity investigation. The district attorney’s office said the probe revealed that Vincent misused government money by hiring an unqualified employee for personal reasons and abusing his power by disregarding both ESD 10 and department policies and procedures put in place to protect Montgomery county taxpayers.  The investigation also revealed a lack of oversight by the ESD 10 board, who have all since resigned.

“Vincent abused his position of authority and allowed his selfish desires to effect his decision-making and judgment,” Assistant District Attorney Darla Faulkner said. “His selfishness caused a ripple effect in the department and ended up hurting so many good, hard-working employees.  Fortunately, the Magnolia Volunteer Fire Department is now under the leadership of Fire Chief Jeffrey Hevey and a new ESD 10 board, all of whom are making positive changes that will benefit the people they are entrusted to serve.”

District Attorney Brett Ligon added in a news release, “Here we have a civil servant who had every chance to serve the citizens of this county with distinction, and to receive the appropriate appreciation for his service.  Instead, his selfishness and lack of personal discipline destroyed whatever professional reputation he had once achieved, and he has dishonored his agency and disappointed everyone who knew him.  With this plea, he formally accepts responsibility for abusing the public trust, betraying his co-workers, and ruining a once illustrious career.  Actions have consequences.”

About the Author:

Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, consumer and business news and local crime coverage.