A former savings and loan owner, described by the Justice Department as a major thrift crook, has been sentenced to five years in prison for using bank funds to pay for a California beach house and to hire prostitutes for business associates.

Don Dixon, 52, also was fined more than $600,000 Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Joe Fish, who imposed a five-year probabtion period to begin after the prison term.He is eligible for parole after serving a third of sentence.

Following a six-week trial, a jury convicted Dixon in December on 23 counts stemming from his misuse of money from the now-failed Vernon Savings and Loan Association of Dallas to rent a Solana Beach, Calif., home and to pay for prostitutes for business associates.

He was acquitted of allegations he used Vernon funds to make illegal political contributions.

Fish said that despite news reports Dixon was not convicted of causing the 1987 thrift failure, which carried a $1.3 billion bailout pricetag.