Three Wicomico County Employees Face Theft Charges - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Three Wicomico County Employees Face Theft Charges

Kenneth Leo Townsend Kenneth Leo Townsend
Ray Allen Lewis Ray Allen Lewis
Police brought in three dump trucks to remove property from a warehouse located in back of Lewis Construction Company. (Photo: WBOC) Police brought in three dump trucks to remove property from a warehouse located in back of Lewis Construction Company. (Photo: WBOC)

02/19/2008 9:48 AM ET; Updated 02/20/2008 1:14 PM ET

SALISBURY, Md.- The Wicomico County Sheriff's Office says five people, including three county employees, are facing theft scheme and theft conspiracy charges.

Sheriff Mike Lewis said the suspects are accused of stealing at least $200,000 worth of diesel fuel, 65 large truck tires, 55 barrels of motor oil and antifreeze cases from the county landfill on Brick Kiln Road in Salisbury.

On Tueday, investigators searched the Lewis Construction Company on Forest Grove Road in Parsonsburg. According to the sheriff, police brought in three dump trucks to remove allegedly stolen property from a warehouse located in back of the company. The sheriff also said police were searching the landfill for clues.

Police say that so far, three of the five have been formally arrested and charged with theft scheme and theft conspiracy.  Those include Kenneth Leo Townsend, of Salisbury, the county's landfill supervisor and 18-year county employee; Paul E. Tomaszewski, of Delmar, Md., who is also a county employee; and Ray Allen Lewis, of Parsonsburg, who owns the Lewis Construction Company.

Sheriff Lewis called Ray Lewis- of no relation- the "mastermind" of the operation.

According to the sheriff, the thefts took place between Jan. 1, 2007 and Feb. 19, 2008. He first heard about the alleged crimes about three months ago when someone showed up at his house.

The break in the investigation happened Monday night when Sheriff Lewis stopped a box truck for two equipment violations, including a cut-off mud flap on Forest Grove Road in Parsonsburg. Sheriff Lewis said the truck was registered to Lewis Sand & Gravel, LLC, a business owned by Ray Lewis. He smelled diesel fuel coming from the truck and inside found five fuel tanks.

"It was specially equipped for stealing fuel," the sheriff said. "They would simply pump the diesel fuel out of one location at the county landfill directly into the back of a six-wheel box truck."

According to court documents, suspect Ray Lewis and one of his construction employees stole fuel from the county landfill three to four times a week during the past year. Court documents show that the employee stated that on most occasions 300 gallons of fuel were taken but there were times when as much as 500 gallons were taken in one trip.
The employee told police he would be paid $60 per load of fuel in an overtime check issued to him from Ray Lewis, court documents show.

According to court documents, Townsend, the county's landfill supervisor, allowed the employee and Ray Lewis to steal the fuel and other items from the landfill and that Townsend even assisted the employee load the truck tires into the truck to steal.

Investigators also questioned Tomaszewski who works at the county landfill. According to court documents, Tomaszewski admitted to the thefts and was paid $300 by Ray Lewis each time fuel or other items were stolen.

At a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis Ruark said he plans to go to the grand jury next week for indictments.  He said the group also stole the public's trust.

"We're dealing with tax dollars," Ruark said. "I know all of us are very, very concerned that our tax dollars go to good use."

Wicomico County Executive Rick Pollitt said an audit of the landfill will be undertaken and there will be changes in accounting for their inventory.

"It hurts deeply and once your trust is shattered, it takes an awful lot to get it back," Pollitt said. "So we're very concerned.

Pollitt said the employees that were arrested are now suspended without pay. The allegedly stolen materials have since been returned to the county. 

All three suspects are now free after a District Court commissioner released them on their own recognizance.

Meantime, the Wicomico Bureau of Investigation is asking anyone with additional information about this case to call the WBI at (410) 548-4898 or Crime Solvers at (410) 548-1776.

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