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Diesel Theft Investigation Leads to Charges in Lane and Douglas Counties
04/13/2009
Sergeant Tom Hulett
Oregon State Police - Springfield
Fish & Wildlife Division
Office: (541) 726-2536

Photograph links valid for 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
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An Oregon State Police investigation into the theft of approximately 1,400 gallons of diesel valued at nearly $3,300 led to charges to be filed against three men, two from Springfield and one from Yoncalla. Troopers were able to recover and return to the victim company nearly 1,000 gallons of diesel, and the seizure of approximately 3 ounces of marijuana.
 
On April 2, 2009 OSP Fish & Wildlife Trooper Marc Boyd received information from a Eugene-area timber company that nearly 1,400 gallons of diesel was pumped from Pacific Pride locations between March 21 - 23 using a stolen company card. The diesel fuel was pumped at Pleasant Hill and Oakland (Rice Hill) locations.
 
An OSP investigation led to search warrants being obtained for two residences and a vehicle. Two suspects were also initially identified.
 
On April 10th, OSP troopers from the Fish & Wildlife Division, Patrol Services Division, and Drug Enforcement Section executed search warrants in Springfield at locations associated with two suspects identified as ALEXANDER L. ESGATE, age 38, and BRANDON WHITEHURST, age 25. ESGATE was an employee of the victim company and previously reported the card as lost to his company on March 24th. The investigation alleges ESGATE sold the card to WHITEHURST and provided the security code knowing it was going to be used to steal fuel.
 
Information developed during the search warrant executions led investigators to a Douglas County residence in Yoncalla where troopers found approximately 700 gallons of the stolen diesel. A third suspect was contacted at this location identified as RONALD DEWAYNE ELAM, age 23.
 
In total, approximately 900 to 1,000 gallons of stolen diesel was recovered at the Springfield and Yoncalla locations and subsequently returned to the victim company. In addition to fuel in Lane County, approximately 3 ounces of marijuana and other items believed to be stolen were seized.
 
ESGATE, WHITEHURST, and ELAM were all cited to appear in Lane County Circuit Court for Theft in the Second Degree and in Douglas County Circuit Court for Theft in the First Degree.
WHITEHURST is also be charged with Unlawful Possession and Delivery of a Controlled Substance - Marijuana, Child Neglect in the First Degree, and Endangering the Welfare of a Minor.
 
A person of interest related to this investigation was identified and contacted April 11th. ALBERT L. RASMUSSEN, age 41, from Eugene, was arrested on three outstanding misdemeanor warrants for Negotiating a Bad Check held by Springfield Police Department and lodged at Lane County Jail.