CAMDEN, N.J. â€“ A truck driver formerly employed by a trucking company in Ocean, N.J., admitted today to stealing over $300,000 from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) through unauthorized use of fuel cards given to the company in connection with a contract to haul U.S. mail, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Vincenzo Bender, 36, of Collings Lakes, N.J., entered his guilty plea to one count of theft of government property before U.S. District Judge Joseph E. Irenas in Camden federal court.
According to the Information to which Bender pleaded guilty and statements made in court:
The USPS contracts with trucking companies for long haul delivery of mail, including with a trucking company that employed Bender. The USPS gave special fuel credit cards called â€œVoyager cardsâ€ to the company, which its drivers were to use to buy fuel for trucks used to transport the mail. The USPS was billed directly for all charges incurred.
Bender admitted that from November 2005 to October 2008, he used the cards to make numerous unauthorized purchases of fuel for his personal use, including for a side towing business and to sell to others at a discounted price. Bender used a number of cards â€“ issued to trucks he drove and to trucks operated by other drivers â€“ and visited multiple gas stations, often hear his home. As part of the scheme, Bender installed a large rubber bladder in his personal truck which held approximately 100 gallons of fuel.
The theft of government property charge to which Bender pleaded guilty carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000, or twice the amount of loss caused by his offense. In addition, Bender agreed to pay restitution of $335,972.
Judge Irenas allowed Bender to be released on a $50,000 bond until his sentencing, scheduled for July 8, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of USPS, Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Elizabeth Farcht, Eastern Area Field Office, for the investigation leading to todayâ€™s guilty plea.