Former Ascension Parish fleet employee booked in fuel theft _lowres

Corey J. Richard

A former Ascension Parish fleet management employee has been arrested on theft and other counts and is accused of stealing more than $7,200 in gasoline, though sheriff’s investigators think the thefts could end up costing as much as $50,000.

Ascension Parish sheriff’s investigators say Corey Richard, 36, 40492 Adele Road, Gonzales, used parish government fuel cards to steal nearly 2,007 gallons of unleaded fuel in the month of June. But the thefts could be larger than that and have been over a longer period of time.

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Tony Bacala said Richard was booked Thursday into the Ascension Parish Prison near Donaldsonville on counts of theft greater than $1,500, identity theft and unauthorized use of access card as theft. Richard’s bail has been set at $80,000, but he remained in jail Friday evening.

Bacala said Richard used several fuel cards assigned to parish vehicles and equipment. Richard also obtained the PIN number of one fuel card from an unnamed parish employee to make some of the fraudulent transactions.

Investigators estimate the more than 2,000 gallons stolen in June cost $3.60 per gallon, amounting to a loss of $7,225, Bacala said.

Parish President Tommy Martinez said Friday that parish officials discovered irregularities with the fuel cards through parish auditing and reported the problem to deputies. Bacala said deputies began investigating the theft July 7.

Martinez said Richard, who has since quit his job in the parish Fleet Management Department, had access to the fuel cards for parish vehicles through his position. The department oversees an array of, generally, leased cars, trucks, backhoes and other equipment.

Martinez said another parish employee who was supposed to oversee the fuel cards has also resigned.

Martinez did not name that employee, but said the parish’s own probe into the alleged thefts has not implicated any other employees criminally at this time.

“We’re going to continue to investigate this situation,” he said.

Martinez added his administration is working on addressing the problems raised by the arrest to prevent similar problems in the future.

Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Bacala said Friday the thefts remain under investigation.

Follow David J. Mitchell on Twitter at @NewsieDave.