County uncovers fuel theft

Published 3:40 pm Tuesday, May 8, 2012

An investigation into gasoline theft has led to the resignation of seven Butler County employees.

Butler County engineer Dennis McCall confirmed on Tuesday that seven employees with the Road Department resigned on Monday amid an ongoing investigation by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.

Due to the ongoing nature of the investigation the names of the employees and the dollar amount of the gasoline that was stolen are not being released at this time.

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“Over the last six weeks to two months we recognized some problems with our fuel usage,” McCall said. “We had some unusual numbers, so we coordinated with the Sheriff’s Office and they initiated an investigation.”

Sheriff Kenny Harden said investigators used video surveillance to determine which employees were allegedly stealing gasoline from the Road Department.

“We used the video surveillance to catch them over a period of time,” Harden said. “We’ve created our case file and turned it over to the District Attorney, and now she will present it to the grand jury.”

The grand jury will then determine whether or not criminal charges will be brought against the seven former county employees. The next grand jury is set to meet Sept. 17.

“They will determine whether or not we proceed,” he said.

Harden said an eighth employee may be brought in for questioning.

“It’s not a closed investigation at this point,” he said.

McCall said the loss of the seven employees will reduce the Road Department’s maintenance crew by half.

“The resignations included laborers all the way up to supervisors,” McCall said. “It’s certainly going to have a big impact on our department.”

Butler County Commission Chairman Jesse McWilliams said the resignations will temporarily “cripple” the road department.

“Losing that many employees is a big problem,” he said. “It will put us behind on our regular maintenance work, and I’d ask the public to bear with us during this time.”

McCall said he is looking to fill the vacated positions immediately.