Tyrone Thaddeus Martinez Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Court
The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Billings, on October 11, 2012, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, TYRONE THADDEUS MARTINEZ, a 33-year-old resident of Billings, pled guilty to wire fraud. Sentencing has been set for January 17, 2013. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jessica T. Fehr, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
MARTINEZ was employed by Hardrive Asphalt, in Billings from the end of April 2011 through August 22, 2011. MARTINEZ was fired on August 22, 2011. Each of the fleet vehicles for Hardrive is equipped with a Wright Express gas card. Each employee who is authorized to use a gas card is issued a 4-digit PIN that enables the use of the gas cards attached to each Hardrive vehicle. MARTINEZ, employed as a laborer, was not authorized a gas card or a pin.
During the summer of 2011, Hardrive had one truck that was inoperable and sat in the company's yard. This particular vehicle had two gas cards. One gas card was for bulk fuel and one card was a regular gas card. The yard was locked at night, but was open during operating hours and any employee would have had access to the vehicle and its contents.
Hardrive runs gas charge totals on a monthly basis. Prior to Hardrive running its September 2011 totals, Wright Express telephoned Hardrive to voice concern for unusual gas charges. It was determined that $10,293 in charges were fraudulently charged to Hardrive's account. The fraudulent charges were incurred over short durations of time during single day periods. The first two charges were in Billings on August 20, 2011, and August 21, 2011, the two day period prior to MARTINEZ being fired from Hardrive. In total over 160 fraudulent charges were incurred in various locations, for various amounts, including Billings; Big Timber; Gillette, Wyoming; Post Falls, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; and Seattle, Washington.
All of the fraudulent gas transactions used PIN 7524 that was assigned to Hardrive employee X.X. X.X. was working on a job site for Hardrive in Wyoming during the time the fraudulent charges were incurred. Questioning by Hardrive management uncovered that X.X. had previously provided MARTINEZ with his PIN when the two worked together prior to the fraud taking place.
Law enforcement was able to obtain numerous pieces of video footage from the gas stations where the card and PIN were used. Law enforcement was able to visually identify MARTINEZ in several of the videos. Law enforcement was also able to identify MARTINEZ's vehicle in several of the videos. Additionally, MARTINEZ used an Albertsons' gas station at one point to fill up his vehicle. Albertsons was able to confirm that MARTINEZ's Albertsons' savings card was used for the gasoline purchases made with the stolen card and the PIN.
Law enforcement interviewed MARTINEZ about the allegations from Hardrive. MARTINEZ admitted he took a gas card from one of the company vehicles. MARTINEZ stated that the PIN needed to use the card was common knowledge to most employees. MARTINEZ admitted to using the gas card in Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, and Washington. MARTINEZ said that he was sorry for his actions.
In total, MARTINEZ stole $10,293 in fuel from Hardrive Asphalt through his gas card scheme.
MARTINEZ faces possible penalties of 20 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.
The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Secret Service.