Former Akron fire union treasurer Joseph Ruhlin pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing funds from the Akron fire department’s union.

Ruhlin pleaded guilty under an agreement with prosecutors to a charge of theft in office and tampering with records, both third-degree felonies, which carry penalties of up to three years in prison.

Ruhlin stole the money during the time he was treasurer of Akron Fire Fighters Local 330 from January 2011 to March 2017, prosecutors say. Union officials have said the money came from the dues paid by the union’s 300 members.

Prosecutors claim the amount Ruhlin stole is close to $500,000.

However, Erik Jones, Ruhlin’s attorney, said the restitution Ruhlin owes must still be determined.

“It is an evolving thing — this issue of what is the appropriate restitution,” Jones said.

Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Alison Breaux is scheduled to hold a restitution hearing, followed by Ruhlin’s sentencing, at 1 p.m. March 13.

Ruhlin, 41, of Akron, was arrested late last March in North Carolina, where authorities said he fled after theft charges were filed against him. He reportedly left a suicide note at his Akron home and was driving to Florida when he was picked up March 24 in Charlotte, N.C.

Ruhlin originally was also charged with aggravated theft, telecommunications fraud and a second tampering with evidence charge. His case was set to go to trial Feb. 7, but he accepted a plea agreement instead.

With a conviction for theft in office, Ruhlin will be prohibited from holding a position of public authority and his publicly funded pension could be used to satisfy the restitution amount, Jones said.

Ruhlin is free on bond. Breaux agreed Tuesday to the removal of his GPS monitoring device.

Ruhlin is not currently working as a firefighter, though he hasn’t been discharged. His employment status will be addressed following the conclusion of his criminal case.

Beacon Journal reporter Katie Byard contributed to this report. Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or swarsmith@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow on Twitter: @swarsmithabj and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/swarsmith.