Terminal employee pleads guilty in fuel theft

A former terminal supervisor for Kinder Morgan Energy Partners pleaded guilty October 30 in US District Court in Seattle WA to charges in connection with 1.49 million gallons of fuel stolen from the KMP terminals over a period of several years, according to information from the Department of Transportation's Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

Martin L Guitard also pleaded guilty to conspiracy, money laundering, theft of interstate shipments, and filing a false federal income tax return in connection with the fuel theft from the KMP terminals, according to the OIG information.

In March 2006, a federal grand jury indicted Guitard, two other KMP employees, and two employees of General Transport Company (GT), a fuel delivery firm in Seattle WA.

KMP detected the amount of fuel discrepancies through an internal audit in October 2004. The OIG said the investigation disclosed that the five conspired to steal fuel from KMP by using a misappropriated maintenance code. The stolen fuel was then sold at or below market rates to unsuspecting owners of fuel service stations operating in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon.

The conspirators received approximately $3.9 million in sales of the stolen fuel, and an estimated $750,000 in federal and state motor fuel taxes went uncollected, the OIG said.

Two of the KMP employees were sentenced in July 2006 and were ordered to pay $235,360 in restitution and serve 18 months in prison for their participation in the scheme. Christy S Rawls, a former automation clerk at the KMP Terminal 18 in the Port of Seattle, and Andrew D Cutright, a former KMP terminal operator, were each sentenced in US District Court in Seattle, according to the OIG information.

On July 19, Neil B Kikuchi, terminal manager at General Transport Company (GT), a fuel delivery firm, pleaded guilty in US District Court in Seattle WA to charges of conspiracy, money laundering, and theft of interstate shipments in connection with the fuel theft. On July 17, James R Ito, a former office worker at GT, pleaded guilty to the same charges, according to OIG information.

Guitard and the remaining defendants are scheduled to be sentenced March 16, 2007, the OIG information said.

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