Owners of Two Oil Transportation Companies in New York Indicted for Stealing and Reselling $75 Million of Stolen Heating Oil
Two Employees of the Companies also Charged, Nine Search Warrants Executed, and more than 34 Tanker Trucks Seized
Indictments were unsealed this morning charging two owners and two employees of oil transporting companies with stealing tens of millions of gallons of heating oil from customers on Long Island and in the New York City metropolitan area, reselling the stolen oil, and laundering the proceeds from the sales. LEONARD BALDARI, Jr., the owner of Mystic Tank Lines Corporation, located in Astoria, New York, and several related transportation and real estate corporations (collectively, “Mystic Oil”) and MICHAEL DAVID HILLER, the treasurer of Mystic Oil, were charged in the first indictment, and TONINO SOLIMINE, the owner of T&S Trucking Corporation (“T&S”), located in Brooklyn, New York, and ESTON CLARE, the office manager of T&S, were charged in the second indictment. Earlier today, law enforcement officers executed search warrants at seven locations in Brooklyn, Queens, Long Island, and New Jersey, and also seized more than 34 Mystic Oil and T&S tanker trucks.
BALDARI and HILLER are scheduled to be arraigned before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Michael L. Orenstein, and SOLIMINE and CLARE are scheduled to be arraigned before United States District Court Judge Joanna Seybert. The arraignments will take place later today at the U.S. Courthouse, Federal Plaza, Central Islip, New York.
The indictments were announced by Roslynn R. Mauskopf, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Patricia J. Haynes, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service, Criminal Investigation, New York, and Mark J. Mershon, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office.
According to the indictments and other documents filed in these cases, Mystic Oil, one of the largest transporters of heating oil in the Northeastern United States, and T&S deliver oil primarily to residential customers located on Long Island and in the New York City metropolitan area. The indictments allege that BALDARI and HILLER, beginning as early as 1990, and SOLIMINE and CLARE, beginning as early as 2000, stole heating oil by directing their truck drivers to hold back portions of oil from retail customers, who were fraudulently billed for a full delivery. The defendants allegedly then sold the stolen oil to other oil retailers, primarily for cash payments. The indictments charge that BALDARI and HILLER received approximately $50 million from the sale of stolen heating oil, and SOLIMINE and CLARE received approximately $25 million.
“The defendants made millions of dollars by systematically stealing heating oil from unsuspecting customers. Now, they will be held accountable for their actions,” stated United States Attorney Mauskopf. Ms. Mauskopf thanked the Nassau County and New York City Offices of Consumer Affairs, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Department of Labor, Inspector General’s Office of Labor Racketeering, the General Services Administration Inspector General’s Office, and the New York City Department of Investigation for their assistance, and added that the investigation is continuing.
IRS Special Agent-in-Charge Haynes stated, “Money laundering is never a victimless crime. Not only are innocent people cheated out of their hard-earned income, but the underground, untaxed economy harms the entire nation’s economic strength. IRS Criminal Investigation together with our law enforcement partners are united in our determined effort to financially disrupt criminal businesses and organizations.”
FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Mershon stated, “The conduct of these defendants gives whole new meanings to two petroleum industry terms. Customers paid for ‘full service,’ as in a full tank load of home heating oil. What they got was ‘self service,’ as in the defendants’ self-dealing that skimmed gallons off each delivery and netted them a multimillion-dollar windfall. Theft is theft, whether it’s done by burglarizing your home or shortchanging your oil delivery.”
If convicted, the defendants each face maximum sentences of 30 years’ imprisonment and fines equal to twice their pecuniary gain. The indictments also seek forfeiture in the total amount of $75 million.
The government’s cases are being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Burton T. Ryan, Jr., Evan Williams, and Richard T. Lunger.
The Defendants :
LEONARD BALDARI, Jr.
MICHAEL DAVID HILLER
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