The Beach Boys' former business manager, convicted of embezzling $906,000 from the surf-rockers, says he took the money in "economic self-defense" because he believed he was the target of a conspiracy designed to leave him in financial ruins.

Stephen M. Love, 41, was sentenced Wednesday in Los Angeles to five years on probation and ordered to make $86,000 in restitution. He pleaded no contest Oct. 18 to one count of grand theft.Love, a younger brother of Beach Boys lead singer Mike Love and a cousin of group members Brian Wilson and Carl Wilson, was the group's business manager for much of the 1970s before being fired.

Love claimed in a written statement that he took the money as an act of "economic self-defense" when the Beach Boys gave him the boot and after his brother Mike "conceived and orchestrated a group conspiracy to (financially) `bury Steve Love.' "

Several members of the Beach Boys who were contacted by a district attorney's investigator approved of Love's sentence and the amount of the restitution, Deputy District Attorney Steve Licker said.