FIVE PEOPLE INDICTED FOR THEFT OF $3.9 MILLION WORTH OF FUEL
Company insiders allegedly doctored records and procedures to sell stolen gas to area stations
MARTIN LYNN GUITARD, 48, of Olympia, Washington, JAMES RAYMOND ITO, 46, of Bellevue, Washington, NEIL BURT KIKUCHI, 56, of Kent, Washington, CHRISTY SUE RAWLS, 44, of Puyallup, Washington, and ANDREW D. CUTRIGHT, 31, of Bonney Lake, Washington were indicted by a federal grand jury today for Conspiracy to Steal Interstate Shipments and 19 counts of Theft of Interstate Shipments. GUITARD, KIKUCHI, and ITO are charged with 43 counts of Money Laundering. The charges stem from a lengthy investigation into the theft of fuel from the 13th Avenue Harbor Island Fuel Depot between January, 1999, and September, 2004.
GUITARD, RAWLS and CUTRIGHT were all employed by the GATX company which operated the fuel depot. KIKUCHI and ITO were employed by General Transport Company, a trucking firm that delivers fuel to gas stations. GUITARD was the terminal supervisor at the 13th Avenue Harbor Island fuel depot from at least 1999 until November, 2000. As the supervisor, GUITARD knew a special code that would allow maintenance workers to pump product from the tanks to check the equipment. Use of the maintenance code meant there would be no record of the amount of fuel pumped.
According to the indictment, GUITARD approached KIKUCHI in late 1998 or early 1999 with a plan to steal fuel from the depot and sell it for personal gain. GUITARD claimed that if they kept the fuel amounts within the “margin of error” on the depot pumps, no one would notice the missing product. KIKUCHI had access to tanker trucks and customer stations through his employment with General Transport Company. ITO, the second co-conspirator employed by General Transport Company, served as the bookkeeper for the scheme, depositing the payments from unsuspecting gas stations and disbursing the proceeds to the co-conspirators. RAWLS’ role in the conspiracy was to delete data from the internal computer systems at the depot that might have revealed the fuel theft, and also to monitor monthly inventories that would determine the amount that could be stolen in each month based on the related “margin of error.”
CUTRIGHT, a nephew of GUITARD, assisted the scheme, too, by inputting the maintenance code so that KIKUCHI could fill tanker trucks with stolen fuel without generating any record of the theft transaction.
The indictment alleges that between 1999 and 2004 the co-conspirators were responsible for the theft of more than 3.9 million gallons of gasoline and obtained more than $3.9 million from the sale of the stolen product.
GUITARD continued in the conspiracy even after he ended his employment with the fuel depot in November, 2000. CUTRIGHT and RAWLS’ employment at the fuel depot terminated in July, 2005. ITO and KIKUCHI’s employment with General Transportation Company terminated in January, 2005.
The eighteen month investigation of the scheme began when one of the oil companies using the depot complained about an apparent loss of product from the fuel depot. The fuel depot owner, Kinder Morgan, contacted the Port of Seattle Police, who began the criminal investigation. They were joined in the investigation by the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (DOT-OIG) and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-DIV).
The defendants will be arraigned on the charges March 16, 2006. An indictment contains allegations that have not yet been proven at trial beyond a reasonable doubt.
Assistant United States Attorney Kathryn Warma is prosecuting the case. For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110.
FOR A FAXED COPY OF THE INDICTMENT, PLEASE CALL EMILY LANGLIE PRIOR TO 5:00 P.M.