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Louisiana government worker charged with stealing gasoline

Theft is a catchall term for taking something of value from someone else, either directly without permission or by fraudulent means. Theft can be a misdemeanor or felony charge depending upon the value of a stolen item, the method used to steal and the alleged victim. All theft allegations can cause turmoil for a Baton Rouge defendant and, in some cases, long-term consequences.

A Gonzales man resigned from his position in the fleet management department of Ascension Parish after being charged with stealing gasoline from the government. The 36-year-old is accused of buying more than 2,000 gallons of gas during June using government access cards. Police believe further investigation will show the defendant fraudulently obtained up to $50,000 worth of fuel.

No one else working in the government department has been charged with a crime. However, authorities said another unnamed parish worker provided the defendant with a PIN code used to make some illegal purchases. A second employee from the fleet department quit about the same time the defendant did.

Investigators said the purchases were spread across several gas cards, which were supposed to be used to fuel government-owned vehicles. The nature of the defendant's former job gave him access to the cards. Police started the investigation in early July, after the parish reported discrepancies in an audit.

The theft amount was calculated based on a per-gallon fuel cost of $3.60. The one-month total of unauthorized gas card expenditures added up to more than $7,200. Formal charges against the ex-government worker included unauthorized use of an access card, identity theft and theft greater than $1,500.

The man was jailed on $80,000 bail. Authorities said the investigation is incomplete.

Employers often respond immediately and negatively when a worker is charged with theft. Termination is possible even for innocent defendants. Early retention of a criminal defense lawyer may help reduce legal and professional consequences.

Source: The Advocate, "Former Ascension Parish fleet employee booked in fuel theft" David J. Mitchell, Jul. 18, 2014

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