CAMDEN, N.J. â€“ A supervisor of truck drivers formerly employed by two related trucking companies 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 companies in connection with a contract to haul U.S. mail, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced.
Rufus Ward, 67, of Deptford, 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 Ward pleaded guilty and statements made in court:
The USPS contracts with trucking companies for long haul delivery of mail, including with the two trucking companies that employed Ward. The USPS gave special fuel credit cards called â€œVoyager cardsâ€ to the companies, 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.
Ward admitted that from approximately April 2005 to February 2009, he used the cards to make numerous unauthorized purchases of fuel and cigarettes for his personal use. Ward used a number of cards issued to trucks he drove and to trucks operated by other drivers. In addition, Ward admitted that he allowed another employee, Vincenzo Bender, to use such cards for Benderâ€™s personal gain after Bender approached him and told him that he knew what Ward was doing with the cards. In return, Ward received from Bender thousands of dollars in cash, goods, and services.
The theft of government property charge to which Ward 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, Ward agreed to pay restitution of $365,416. Judge Irenas allowed Ward to be released on a $100,000 bond until his sentencing, scheduled for September 13, 2011.
Bender pleaded guilty on March 11, 2011, to the same charge, and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 8, 2011.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited special agents of the 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.