Gonzales police accuse two in fuel theft scheme

City police officers arrested a U.S. Environmental Services supervisor and a Gonzales man in a kickback scheme that rang up nearly $1,500 in unauthorized fuel purchases on a company fuel card.

The scheme, which happened once a week over four weeks in July, also earned the U.S. Environmental Services supervisor, Joseph Rodriguez, 39, 308 N. Marchand Ave., Gonzales, $800 in kickbacks for use of the card and access numbers allowing one of Rodriguez’s buddies to make the fuel purchases, Gonzales police officers said.

Gonzales police detective Sgt. Steven Nethken said in a news release Monday that officers found that Reginald Leblanc, 35, 622 S. Oleana Ave., Gonzales, used the credit card to buy 401.5 gallons of diesel from a Popingo’s convenience store on La. 44 in Gonzales.

Nethken said detectives found surveillance video purportedly showing Leblanc filling a portable tank with about 100 gallons of diesel each time, totaling $1,424.89.

Leblanc admitted to the scheme Thursday and told detectives that the USES supervisor, Rodriguez, gave him the card and PIN to buy the gas in exchange for $200 for each fill-up.

Detectives said Rodriguez, who is Leblanc’s friend, had access to the card and the personal identification number.

Rodriguez later admitted to the scheme as well, Nethken said, saying he told detectives he used a card meant for a vehicle used in emergencies only. Rodriguez also told detectives that the card was removed and returned on the same day to avoid suspicion.

Nethken said a company audit initially uncovered questionable fuel expenses.

Leblanc was booked Thursday with one count of felony theft greater than $500 and four counts of unauthorized use of an access card greater than $500, Nethken said.

Rodriguez was booked Friday on one count of criminal conspiracy, three counts of identity theft and four counts of unauthorized use of an access card, Nethken said.

Both Rodriguez and Leblanc were booked into Ascension Parish Prison near Donaldsonville but have since been released on bail, online jail records showed Monday.