Woman pleads guilty to role in $3.9 million fuel theft

| 5/5/2006

Even with today’s fuel prices, $3.9 million worth of gasoline is still a lot of gasoline.

That’s how much federal authorities say a handful of people stole from Kinder Morgan Energy Partners’ Harbor Island Fuel Depot at the Port of Seattle.

Three employees of the terminal and two fuel delivery drivers for General Transport allegedly siphoned fuel a bit at a time from 1999 to 2004, according to a report by The Associated Press.

An internal audit in 2004 showed discrepancies in fuel amounts from the previous few years.

The feds indicted the people after months of investigation by the IRS and the Port of Seattle Police. The group allegedly siphoned fuel and sold it to gas stations in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

Christy Sue Rawls, 44, of Puyallup, WA, pleaded guilty on April 27 to 19 charges of theft of interstate shipments. She is scheduled for sentencing in July.

Rawls’ role, according to court documents, was to compute the amount of fuel they could steal without triggering suspicion, and to falsify documents.

Martin Lynn Guitard, 48, of Olympia, WA, The AP reported, possessed a code that allowed certain workers to pump fuel from tanks without creating a paper trail. That led to his indictment.

The other three people indicted in the case were fellow employee Andrew D. Cutright, 31, of Bonney Lake, and the two truck drivers, James Raymond Ito, 46, of Bellevue, Neil Burt Kikuchi, 56, of Kent, all of Washington.

The AP reported that Kikuchi and Ito also face 43 charges of money laundering.

All five could face federal prison time to be determined by the courts.

– By David Tanner, staff writer