Pierce County worker charged with stealing fuel
Charges of theft and misconduct/ falsifying records were filed March 18 against Roger L. Billeter, 51, W6207 490th St., Beldenville, a Highway Department worker, is charged with two Class I felonies. Each carries a maximum penalty of $10,000 and 42 months prison if he is found guilty.
Billeter's first court appearance is set for 10 a.m. April 19.
According to the criminal complaint, Highway Commissioner Chad Johnson and Superintendent Jim Harris reported the apparent thefts to Sheriff's Department investigators last November.
Harris told investigators that Billeter, who has worked for the department for 12 years, has shown a pattern of inaccuracy in reporting fuel amounts and keeping records since April 2008.
Johnson and Harris reported that in his job as foreman, Billeter transported diesel fuel in a bulk tank to job sites and fueled heavy equipment that couldn't be driven back to Ellsworth and the central Highway Department pumps there.
Harris was allowed to take his county-owned truck home so he could respond to after-hours calls and had sole possession of a fuel card for use at the department pumps.
Harris said he had identified about 145 fuel receipts or records that were apparently either filled out incorrectly or altered.
In some cases Billeter allegedly turned in hand receipts for more fuel than vehicles' tanks could hold.
When questioned by an investigator in December, Billeter denied stealing fuel but said he would sometimes give a few gallons to truckers who used the fuel as a solvent to clean their vehicles. He said he thought if he just added 10 gallons on each machine that would cover the difference.
The amount of fuel allegedly missing is nearly 1,700 gallons. The loss is estimated at over $5,000.
Johnson said Billeter is no longer an employee of the Highway Department.