When Fleet Employees Get in Trouble
Some commercial and public sector fleet employees have been arrested and charged with a variety of offenses, such as embezzling, fraudulent remarketing practices, and grand theft auto. Here are some of their stories.
Opportunities exist in every industry and business sector for less-than-honest employees to commit crimes. Fleet management is no exception. Situations exist that can lead the dishonest fleet manager down the road to trouble.
Automotive Fleet researched court documents and company/public sector press releases for the following information. (All information was confirmed accurate as of press time based on court records. Some cases discussed are ongoing and results may have changed since publication.)
■ Fleet Manager Implicated in Fraud Scheme
Scott Beeson was implicated and charged for a fraud scheme targeting his former employer, Ferrellgas, Inc., the nation's second-largest propane distributor. According to court documents filed in Platte County, Mo., Circuit Court March 28, 2008, Ferrellgas, Inc. alleged in a civil action that Beeson worked with several accomplices embezzling $3.5 million from the company, at least $3 million of which was pocketed by Beeson.
According to a company spokesperson, an internal investigation revealed a significant amount of money had been stolen over a period of years.
Court documents alleged that Beeson, as Ferrellgas fleet manager, created, organized, implemented, and orchestrated a systematic scheme involving fraudulent and false vendor invoices.
According to the allegations, Beeson instructed a group of vendors how and when to submit false invoices to Ferrellgas for payment.
The invoices listed work not performed and/or contained excessive fees and expenses. The petition stated Beeson instructed the vendors where to send or wire money received from Ferrellgas for payment of the false invoices.
The court documents alleged Beeson either deposited the money in his own personal bank accounts or channeled it to "a non-profit business entity of which he was the founder, chief executive officer, and member of the board of directors."
A final judgment by default against Beeson was set June 25, 2008 for $3.25 million.
■ Fleet Manager Accused of Fraudulent Withdrawals
Mark Alan Andrews, former ClosetMaid fleet manager, is accused of allegedly stealing more than $500,000 from the company. Andrews pled not guilty to a first-degree charge of organized fraud during a scheduled Jan. 20 arraignment, according to Marion County, Fla., Clerk records.
Andrews allegedly stole approximately $575,000 from the ClosetMaid Corporation, where he had previously worked for eight years before being terminated for "performance issues" two months prior, according to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement report.
A six-week investigation found Andrews made cash withdrawals from company credit cards designated exclusively for fuel purchases. Law enforcement officials found Andrews the only person with access to all the cards. He alone received the monthly invoices before sending them to the finance department for payment.
A pretrial date was set for April 16, 2009.
■ Fleet Manager Steals 75 Vehicles
Bryan Moylan, former director of transportation for OCB Reprographics in Irvine, Calif., pled guilty in 2004 to 75 counts of grand theft auto and embezzlement.
Moylan accepted a plea agreement from the Orange County, Calif., District Attorney's office and received a four-year state prison sentence. He also agreed to aid his former employer in recovering the vehicles. The total loss to the company was estimated at $500,000.
According to an Irvine Police Department investigator, Moylan's embezzlement scheme took two forms.
First, Moylan paid off the residuals on 45 lease-expired vehicles to the lessor who turned the titles over to him. Moylan then sold the vehicles and pocketed the profits.
Second, the remaining 30 vehicles were sold prior to the leases expiring. According to the police investigator, Moylan was caught when a person in possession of one of the vehicles went to OCB looking for the vehicle's title. OCB hired a private investigator, who in turn contacted the authorities.
OCB leased its vehicles under a 36-month, open-end lease. Moylan regularly extended the leases to 42 months, at which time OCB paid the residual and took title to the vehicle. Depreciation was often zero at the end of the 42 months.
■ Former Undersheriff Receives Suspended Prison Sentence
Former Elko County, Nev., Undersheriff Bill Cunningham was given a suspended prison term, placed on three years' probation, and fined for misconduct by a public officer for purchasing a county-owned vehicle through a sealed bid for $350 and selling it for $3,800. County employees are barred from taking part in the sealed bid.
He pled guilty in May 2007 to the felony charge that stemmed from a sheriff's department auction in 2005.
A criminal complaint filed by the Nevada Attorney General's Office said the sealed bid was not opened at the auction and the public was not given a chance to bid on the GMC sport/utility vehicle.
■ County Fleet Manager Accused of Alleged Grand Theft
In 2007, William Roger Walters was charged with third-degree organized fraud for stealing more than $9,000 worth of items from Marion County, Fla.
Walters, who worked for the county for 10 years, was the head of fleet management for three years.
Statements written by county employees and given to sheriff's detectives alleged Walters stole more than 1,600 gallons of diesel fuel, tires, and additional items, totaling $9,131.
The investigation began when Lawrence Thacker, Public Works Bureau chief, contacted the Marion County Sheriff's Office reportedly said Walters was stealing diesel fuel and tires from the fleet management warehouse.
A jury trial was set for April 13, 2009.
■ Fleet Superintendent Charged with Theft
James Simpson, former fleet superintendent in Bullhead City, Ariz., pled guilty in 2008 to one reduced charge of theft. The charge was reduced from a felony to an undesignated charge.
Under a plea agreement, Simpson will be sentenced to probation and possibly up to one year in county jail. If he successfully completes the probation, the felony theft charge would be reduced to a misdemeanor.
Simpson was the superintendent for the city's fleet maintenance department when arrested Sept. 11, 2008, in connection with the alleged theft of auto parts - including tires, fuel system and door components, and a boat cover. The loss from the theft, which occurred between March and August 2008, was estimated at more than $3,000, according to Bullhead City spokesman Steve Johnson.
Three other employees of the fleet maintenance department also were charged with misdemeanors in Bullhead City Justice Court, including co-defendant and Fleet Mechanic Michael Anthony Pallotto, who was charged with misdemeanor false reporting to law enforcement officers. Ronald Pizzie was charged with misdemeanor theft. Pallotto and Pizzie recently pled guilty and were sentenced to probation.
■ Fleet Manager on Two Years House Arrest for Embezzlement
In 2005, former Greenville, Miss. fleet department head Terry Robertson was sentenced to two years of house arrest and ordered to pay back the city more than $18,000 after being convicted of embezzling city funds. Robertson was charged with felony embezzlement. He pled guilty to one count of embezzlement in Washington County Circuit Court.
According to a city spokesperson, Robertson's arrest was the result of a month-long investigation. Greenville Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson said the city received information about possible mishandling of city property and funds. Robertson was terminated from his position before his arrest.
■ State DOT Fleet Reports Diesel Fuel Theft
Using a 100-gallon tank mounted on the back of his personal pickup, Alaska state Department of Transportation (DOT) employee Michael Barickman siphoned off thousands of gallons of state-owned diesel fuel over seven years.
An indictment filed in court accused Barickman of allegedly stealing more than $18,500 in DOT property, which, combined with the 10,500 gallons of fuel, cost the department more than $36,000, Alaska state troopers said.
Barickman was spotted filling his tank at a Palmer, Alaska, facility in June 2008. State troopers said they later found thousands of dollars in stolen property at his home. The thefts began in 2001.
The stolen property allegedly ranged from guardrail sections and bolts to paint and boxes of disposable shop towels, state trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters said. Barickman faces nine felony counts of theft.