ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A New Mexico man is accused of stealing more than a million dollars worth of diesel fuel with a stolen company credit card. “We deal with this in Eddy County. You know, we’re an oil and gas industry-based community. We’ve got a lot of oil and gas theft that goes on in our county, so we do see this from time to time. We do not see this dollar amount though. This is pretty extensive,” says Undersheriff Matthew Hutchinson with the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office.
In late March, the Eddy County Sheriff’s Office followed up on a report of the misuse of a company credit card. “We were contacted by the victim. My understanding is they were doing some accounting work on their books, and they saw some data that just didn’t coincide with what they were wanting to do,” Hutchinson says.
The company, Constructors, Inc., found someone had racked up fuel charges for around $1.2 million over the span of six months. “Obviously, that dollar value is pretty big, so a big loss for the company,” Hutchinson says.
Investigators say video from fuel stations shows the suspect – David Rochel – pull up in a white Ford truck with a water tank tote in the bed of the truck. A man in a tan jacket and camouflage hat walks around the back and fills up the tanker with diesel. “They are big containers, you know, clear containers. I can’t discuss what he was doing with the fuel but what he was doing was he was filling up those containers,” Hutchinson says. “The investigation determined that this wasn’t a singular vehicle that was just being filled up. It was being transported and utilized within the community.”
Two weeks after the report, a man tried to get a new gas card from the Chevron Headquarters in Artesia saying his no longer worked. An employee there realized the card number the man was offering matched the stolen card.
When police tried to call him, he identified himself as ‘Miguel Hernandez.’ However, a search of the call-back phone number the man had left at Chevron Headquarters revealed it actually belonged to David Rochel. Investigators then learned Rochel owned a white Ford F-250, and that he is an ex-employee of Constructors, Inc.
“This case involved a large amount of money embezzled over a long period of time. Lead Detective Rory Preece, along with the entire Detective Division, did a great job following up on all available leads and building a prosecutable criminal case,” says Sheriff Mark Cage of Eddy County.
The company declined to comment on the thefts. Rochel is facing seven charges for credit card fraud and theft – combined they carry up to 55 years in prison. Rochel was released on bond while he awaits trial.