Home Law and Courts Hobbsan charged in $1.2M fuel theft

Hobbsan charged in $1.2M fuel theft

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Gabrielle Arsiaga/News-Sun

CARLSBAD — David Rochel, 50, of Hobbs, was arrested for allegedly stealing approximately $1.2 million worth of fuel.

On Oct. 20 Rochel was arrested by Lea County Sheriff’s Office deputies and charged on warrants for six counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, all second-degree felonies; and theft of a credit card, a fourth-degree felony.

According to a Eddy County Sheriff’s Office report, on March 21, ECSO detectives were conducting a follow up investigation into the theft of a fuel card being used to steal fuel when an employee of Constructors Inc., told deputies she had video footage of the suspect’s vehicle pumping fuel at numerous Brewer fuel stations in the area, and the total amount of loss amounted to about $1.2 million.

When deputies reviewed the video surveillance footage from the Brewer fuel stations, from mainly the Loco Hills area, they saw a white Dodge truck pulling a dump trailer with yellow lettering pulling into the diesel pump lane. The driver door opened but no one is seen on the footage exiting the truck. The truck then drove off.

In a second video, a white Ford F250 with a water tanker tote pulled up to the fuel line. A male in a tan colored jacket walked from the Dodge to the F250, and began fueling the tanker.

Detectives reviewed a third video provided by Constructors Inc. from 2018 which showed the same white Dodge truck and person pumping diesel into five tanks in a trailer being pulled by an older model F250 truck.

On April 4, the reporting person contacted detectives again and said an unidentified man dressed in a camouflaged coat, face mask, and baseball hat, came into the Chevron Headquarters in Artesia requesting a new gas card due to his no longer working.
According to a Brewer employee, he looked at the numbers on the card and recognized it as the gas card from the Constructors Inc. fraud case. The employee said he told the unidentified man to come back on Monday because his system was not working and the man agreed.

The man left the name “Miguel Hernandez” and two different phone numbers he could be reached at.

Detectives called “Miguel,” acting as if they worked for Brewer, to let him know his Brewer card was ready for pick up.
According to the ECSO report detectives, told Miguel they were a supervisor for the Brewer Company and were needing to get him his new gas card. They asked Miguel where they could meet him to give him his gas card.

“Miguel told me he would have to speak to his boss to see when he could meet. Miguel did not call back this day. (Detectives) attempted to meet Miguel several more times over the next few days but were unsuccessful,” the report stated.

Detectives investigated the two phone numbers given to identify the owner. The number came back to a David Rochel, of Hobbs.
Detectives also found Rochel owned a Ford F-250 truck matching the one on the surveillance video footage, and he was an ex-employee of Constructors Inc.

“(Detectives) were able to match the truck (in the video with Rochel’s) by the wheels, damage to the tailgate, the black front grill guard, and the diesel residue on the rear bumper and tailgate,” the ECSO report stated.

Detectives served a warrant on Rochel’s home April 20 and found the clothing he was seen wearing the video footage along with several cellphones.

According to Rochel, he is on disability but works as a mechanic on the side, the report stated.
Rochel said before he was hurt in 2015, he owned a own business and had three semi-trucks to haul sand for the oilfield. He said he did work for Constructors Inc. for about seven years as a foreman who also had a gas card. He also said he quit “seven to eight years ago” and turned over his gas card.

When Rochel saw photos of the truck in the surveillance videos, he admitted it was his — based off of the wires and welder in the bed. He said he sold “that truck to a Miguel Hernandez” a few years ago, but Miguel stopped making payments, so he took it back in Oct. 2021.
Rochel said an employee for Brewer called him two or three times asking for Miguel, saying “your card is ready,” but Rochel said he did not know what they were talking about. Detectives told Rochel they called him and they knew he was the one who answered the phone.

“During the interview, (detectives) explained to (Rochel) there has been over a million dollars worth of diesel purchased with this gas card,” the report stated. “(Rochel) continued to say he did not know anything about the stolen gas card … (Rochel) asked what kind of deal (detectives) could get him.”

According to detectives, Rochel asked for his attorney several times throughout the interview and never admitted to stealing any fuel.

On Aug. 30, ECSO detectives along with the FBI again interviewed Rochel, this time at his residence.

Rochel allegedly admitted to them he “didn’t use (the fuel card) too many times.” FBI agents asked Rochel how many times the card was used, who was with him when it was used, and how much was charged, but the report did not include the answers to those questions.

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