Pair admit to embezzling

Tuesday, Jan. 19
PITTSFIELD -- A North Adams couple who pleaded guilty to bilking $1.5 million from the Pittsfield-based O'Connell Oil Associates Inc. have been scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Vivian A. Gagnon-Vogel, 48, and George Vogel, 60, of Commanche Drive, pleaded guilty in Berkshire Superior Court last week to single counts of embezzlement and falsifying corporate books.

Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis released George Vogel on personal recognizance, and Vivian Gagnon-Vogel on $1,500 bail pending their sentencing, which is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Feb. 16.

The couple pled guilty to taking the money from the O'Connell Convenience Plus in North Adams between Dec. 1, 2003, and Nov. 2, 2007. Both Gagnon-Vogel, the alleged architect of the scheme, and Vogel were employed by O'Connell Oil Associates.

Gagnon-Vogel, a bookkeeper who worked in the company's North Adams office, handled all cash and credit-card receipts for the North Adams Convenience Plus that was managed by her husband.

Investigators claim she stole up to $1,000 a day from the State Road store. Gagnon-Vogel then used the ill-gotten funds to fuel her drug dependency, police have said.

Officials at O'Connell Oil Associates worked with the North Adams Police Department, which formally launched an investigation in October 2007. A detailed analysis of the embezzlement scheme revealed that Gagnon-Vogel stole large amounts of cash, then overstated the credit-card receipt total to balance the deposit.

A friend and colleague of Gagnon-Vogel's warned her to stop skimming from the store, but she apparently kept up the scheme until company officials noticed serious accounting discrepancies.

In one month alone, company officials reported a loss of $39,000 from the State Road store.


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