A worker at Arlington National Cemetery has pleaded guilty to theft, acknowledging he unlawfully swiped taxpayer-funded government fleet cards to buy thousands of dollars of gasoline for his personal vehicle.
Bobby Harris of Woodbridge, Virginia, was accused by federal investigators of using two General Services Administration fleet cards to fill the tank of his Lincoln Navigator at gas stations at Fort Myer and Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia. Harris, who declined to answers questions Monday from the News4 I-Team, fleeced taxpayers for more than $5,000 in gasoline total, federal investigators said in court records.
One of those cards was assigned to an electric government vehicle, for which gasoline is unnecessary.
Court records said Harris admitted buying both regular and midgrade gasoline with the cards. Investigators said they reviewed images of Harris’ purchases through surveillance video obtained from the gas stations.
An Arlington National Cemetery spokeswoman said, “The employee has been denied access to Arlington National Cemetery pending management review of this case.”
The General Services Administration began leasing vehicles to Arlington National Cemetery in 2011, according to court records.
Harris’ sentencing is scheduled for July, according to federal prosecutors.
Harris’ case is not an isolated incident. Federal workers have illegally purchased more than $2.4 million worth of gasoline since 2010 by swiping taxpayer-funded government fleet cards for gas they used in their personal cars.
A review of federal audits and court records by the News4 I-Team found about 260 cases of gas theft by government workers nationwide in the past five years, including several cases in the Washington, D.C., area. Taxpayers have been fleeced in the process.
The U.S. General Services Administration, which oversees a federal government fleet of 150,000 automobiles, has distributed 590,385 gasoline purchase cards to federal employees and some D.C. municipal employees. In some of the cases reviewed by the News4 I-Team, low-ranking workers swiped their fleet cards, filled the tank of their personal cars or cars belonging to friends and associates, and falsified some of the paperwork or odometer readings required to mask the crime.
In a Virginia case, a jury convicted Lanaire White, 38, of conspiring to steal almost $300,000 in gasoline, using fleet cards obtained from the Fort Monroe Army base. Federal investigators said White resold some of the gasoline he purchased with the government cards and pocketed the cash. He’s serving a six-year sentence in the Edgefield federal prison in South Carolina.
GSA Deputy Inspector General Bob Erickson said his agents have investigated gas theft cases nationwide. "They're all over the country," he said. "(Thieves) are everywhere the government does business and needs cars to do its business."