Pittsfield highway workers charged with stealing city fuel


PITTSFIELD -- Criminal charges have been filed against three city highway workers for allegedly stealing about 100 gallons of diesel fuel from the city garage over the course of several months.

Tod E. Wallace Sr., 51, of New Lebanon, N.Y., Richard Bator, 53, of Cheshire, and Kevin G. Liebenow, 53, of Pittsfield, were stealing diesel fuel from the maintenance garage at City Yards on West Housatonic Street, according to Pittsfield Police. The fuel is valued at $500.

In October, Commissioner of Public Utilities Bruce Collingwood approached the Pittsfield Police concerning suspicions that city employees were stealing diesel fuel. The detective bureau began investigating the allegations and received information from the superintendent of public works and services, Peter Bruneau, who photographed the fuel pump over the course of several months. He brought the photographs, which purported to show fuel was being stolen, to the police.

In November, police set up a surveillance camera and allegedly caught all three men on tape stealing diesel fuel. They also allege Wallace was caught on tape taking office supplies and exhaust hoses from the maintenance garage.

According to the report, Bruneau believed Wallace was bringing stolen items to his son’s newly opened garage. Tod E. Wallace Jr., is on leave of absence from his job at the maintenance garage.

On Dec. 11, police confronted the elder Wallace, Bator and Liebenow about the allegations. None of the men gave the investigators statements. They were escorted from the premises, but not arrested. They were also suspended.

The elder Wallace is being charged with two counts of felony larceny from a building. His son is not facing any charges.

Bator is facing one count of larceny from a building and Liebenow is facing three counts of the same charge as his co-defendants.

It was unclear at press time whether any of the men are represented by lawyers.

They are all scheduled to be arraigned in Central Berkshire District Court on Jan. 3.

According to police, the investigation is still ongoing and more charges may be filed.

"It’s in the hands of the court system," Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi said Friday.

He said that "a review of our records suggested something was going on," and management personnel then investigated and identified problems.

Bianchi said he doesn’t believe the city will have to adopt new procedures as a result of the alleged thefts, adding, "Our system is fairly well developed now."

He said the duties of the suspended workers are being handled by shifting other workers around, and the department is contacting recently retired employees and others for possible temporary assistance.

Reporter Jim Therrien contributed to this story.

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