The former controller of a Blaine metal-stamping firm was sentenced to 33 months in federal prison for embezzling nearly $1.2 million from his company, the U.S. attorney’s office said.

John Burwood Robinson, 50, from Crystal pleaded guilty in August to one count of mail fraud and one count of filing a false tax return in conjunction with a scheme to embezzle funds from his employer, North Central Stamping & Manufacturing Inc.

He was using the money to fund a car-restoration hobby, federal officials said.

Robinson, who worked at the company for 25 years, was sentenced Nov. 30 by Senior Judge Paul Magnuson in the U.S. District Court in St. Paul.

The scheme appears to have begun when North Central promoted Robinson to the role of controller in 2003. As part of the job, he managed the company’s bank accounts and bookkeeping records but soon began siphoning money from the firm, according to court documents that outlined Robinson’s plea deal.

According to court records, Robinson opened a bank account in North Central’s name without authorization and began depositing customer payments into that account. It is from that company bank account that he stole $1.163 million, authorities said.

According to prosecutors and plea documents, Robinson used the money to “pay for his own personal expenses, to fund his hobby of buying and restoring automobiles and automobile parts, and to pay for a storage facility to store the automobiles and parts.”

Separately, Robinson also admitted to filing false tax returns from 2009 to 2015 that understated his real income. That scheme caused the government to lose nearly $291,800.

“This is an appropriate sentence for a defendant who abused his long-held position of trust by stealing more than $1 million from his employer to fund his preoccupation with classic automobiles,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Surya Saxena. “I am grateful for the combined efforts of the investigative agencies whose work brought this case to a successful conclusion.”