Theft of city fuel admitted

Public works driver resold more than 100,000 gallons of diesel

April 01, 2010|By Robbie Whelan | Baltimore Sun reporter

A former Baltimore public works employee has pleaded guilty to stealing more than 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel from the city and reselling it as part of a scheme that went unnoticed for a year and a half.

Maurice Boone, 45, was found out Jan. 5, 2009, by a Baltimore County police officer who saw Boone filling several 250-gallon storage tanks with city-purchased diesel at a warehouse on Sparrows Point Road. The officer observed Boone while investigating a car-theft ring.

According to court records, Boone told police and an investigator from the city inspector general's office that the plot had been going on since 2007. The tractor-trailer operator would fill a city tanker from a pump at a landfill on Quarantine Road, make several rounds filling city vehicles as part of his job, then sell the remaining fuel for $1 a gallon to an associate named Jimmy, who would leave money for him at the warehouse rendezvous point. The associate was identified in court documents as James Wright, who is a co-defendant in the case.

Boone pleaded guilty Monday and will receive a suspended eight-year sentence and five years' probation, records show. He must also pay the city $187,000 in restitution, but Baltimore Circuit Judge Lynn K. Stewart delayed sentencing until July, a month after Wright's scheduled trial.

Boone's lawyer, Marc Minkove, said his client - who was fired from his city job in March 2009 - will testify against Wright "if he's summoned."

A charging document pegs the total amount of diesel that Boone stole at 101,305.4 gallons, but public works officials said they weren't sure of the precise number. A spokesperson for the state's attorney's office said that the losses may have totaled as much as $1 million, but that prosecutors were unable to document the extent of the theft because of insufficient paperwork.

"From our end, we never knew how much fuel the guy was actually stealing," said Robert Murrow, a DPW spokesman.

Murrow added that fuel prices were rising, so the agency did not notice the high cost of diesel invoices being charged to its office.

Diesel hit a historic high of $4.76 per gallon the week of July 14, 2008, before dropping to $2.01 six months later, according to Department of Energy statistics.

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