County employee terminated after fuel investigation

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – An Erie County Department of Public Works employee is out of job following an investigation into allegations that he stole gas from a county fuel pump.

A spokesman for Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz tells News 4 Investigates that the administration requested an investigation after inconsistencies were discovered in the worker’s usage of county fuel.

“I have not been able to confirm the actual amount of fuel misusage,” Press Secretary Peter Anderson says.

The Erie County Sheriff’s Office, which conducted the investigation, put the value of stolen fuel at less than $500.

“It is my understanding that he was pumping it into containers, individual gas containers,” said John Greenan, Chief of Administrative Services for the Sheriff’s Office.

Greenan says the theft occurred at an Erie County Highway Division property on Cemetery Road in Lancaster. He says the employee would take the containers off county property for his own personal use.

According to the sheriff’s office, detectives became involved in this case in January after they were contacted by the administration of County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

Greenan says the investigation lasted months and came to a head last month.

“He was confronted by our detectives and ultimately he did admit that he had taken gasoline,” Greenan tells News 4.

Erie County has what’s called a Gasboy system to keep track of usage. In order to dispense fuel, employees are assigned a special key that operates the fuel pumps.

“You have to put in your employee number. You have to put in some additional information, mileage on the vehicle and then once you put all that information in then it allows you to pump gasoline into the vehicle,” Greenan explained.

And while authorities say the employee admitted doing it, so far no charges have been brought.

“We presented the information to the administration and what we were able to quantify. What we were able to see, and at this point they did not ask to move forward with petit larceny charges at that point,” Greenan said.

Peter Anderson confirms that the employee, who was based out of the county’s Highway Maintenance Division in Clarence, was terminated in early May, but will continue to receive health insurance through the end of July.

News 4 has been asking whether the county will press charges and seek restitution for the fuel in question, but so far there’s been no response.

News 4 is withholding the name of the former employee because no charges have been filed in the case.

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