NEWARK, N.J. – An Ocean County, New Jersey man today admitted to fraudulently obtaining chainsaws and chainsaw parts from his employer Amtrak and then selling this equipment for personal profit, Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig announced.
Jose Rodriguez, 49, of Brick, New Jersey, pleaded guilty by videoconference before U.S. District Judge Zahid N. Quraishi to an information charging him with one count of mail fraud. Rodriguez was previously charged by complaint in March 2021 with one count of theft from an agency receiving federal funds and one count of theft of government property.
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in court:
Rodriguez had been an Amtrak employee since October 2007, most recently as a senior engineer and repairman, based out of an Amtrak facility in North Brunswick, New Jersey. Between March 2012 and July 2020, Rodriguez obtained 114 chainsaws, 122 chainsaw replacement bars, and 222 replacement chains from Amtrak, the total value of which was over $76,000, under the false pretense that this equipment would be used for Amtrak projects, but then sold the equipment either on an online auction service or directly to purchasers. Rodriguez used the U.S. Postal Service to mail the stolen chainsaw and chainsaw parts to purchasers throughout the United States, including purchasers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
The mail fraud charge carries a maximum potential penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Sentencing is scheduled for April 19, 2022.
Acting U.S. Attorney Honig credited detectives from Amtrak Police New York Division and Mid-Atlantic Division, under the direction of Chief Sam Dotson, and special agents from Amtrak Office of Inspector General, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Waters, Eastern Field Office, with the investigation leading to today’s guilty plea.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Leslie Faye Schwartz in the Special Prosecutions Division and Cari Fais, Chief of the Criminal Division’s Opioids Unit.