The driver of a gasoline truck has entered a guilty plea to stealing 7,162 gallons of gas from a Baltimore company, while two other men pleaded guilty to fraud for selling the gas to motorists under the wrong brand name at a gas station in Potomac.
The gasoline in question - 4,031 gallons of regular and 3,131 gallons of unleaded - was stolen from the Continental Oil Co. of Baltimore and wound up being pumped into cars as Exxon at the Carbin John Exxon station, Seven Locks Road and Tucker man Lane, according to the Baltimore state's attorney's office.
Assistant State's Attorney Charles R. Kearney said William Ring, a 32 year-old driver for the Crown Oil and Wax Co. of Frederick, Md., sold the gas to Burdett Ashton, 42, owner of the Cabin John station. The transaction occurred around midnight March 26 shortly after Exxon announced it was cutting its gas allocations to its service stations.
Ring received $3,000 from Ashton, according to Kearney, although the wholesale value of the gas was $3,522.28. Ring whose company frequently does business with Ashton, was sentenced to three years' probation by Judge Joseph Howard of the Baltimore Criminal Court after pleading guilty June 20 to grand larceny.
In a separate hearing, Ashton and Joseph Abosso, 49, the station's manager, pleaded guilty to motor fuel fraud for selling Continental gas under the Exxon brand name.
Ashton was fined $4,000 and court costs and Abosso was fined $1,500 and costs by Baltimore Traffic Court Judge Robert Gerstung. Kearney said charges of receiving stolen goods, conspiracy and being an accessory before the fact of larceny were dropped.
Judge Gerstung told a reporter that although he believes that in the current gas shortage, "the average customer wouldn't be upset" about buying gas labeled with the wrong brand name, he felt the fines should be stiff to prevent station operators from breaking the law to get extra gas.
Henry Noyes, attorney for Ashton and Abosso, called the motor fuel fraud statute "ridiculous. . . . At this time, people don't care what brand they get as long as they get something" that makes a car run, he said.