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State employee charged in fuel theft

Posted: Sunday, January 25, 2009

ANCHORAGE - A Palmer man has been indicted on charges of stealing at least 10,500 gallons of diesel fuel over seven years from state tanks.

Prosecutors said Michael Barickman, 55, used a 100-gallon tank mounted on his pickup to steal fuel from his employer, the state Department of Transportation.

Reached at home in Palmer, Barickman told the Anchorage Daily News he knew nothing about the allegations and that the claims were untrue.

"Far as I'm concerned they are," he said.

The indictment filed Friday also charged Barickman with stealing more than $18,500 in state property.

With the fuel and property combined, the department lost more than $36,000, troopers said.

Barickman was spotted filling his tank at a Palmer facility in June 2008. Troopers said they later found stolen property at his home.

The thefts began in 2001, according to troopers.

Barickman's brother, William Barickman, 51, another DOT employee, stole about $720 in property and destroyed or hid items to avoid getting caught, according to prosecutors.

The property the brothers took ranged from sections of guardrail and bolts to paint and boxes of disposable shop towels, said Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

Michael Barickman faces nine felony counts of theft. William Barickman faces one count of theft and tampering with evidence. The brothers are due in court next month.

DOT spokesman Roger Wetherell said the brothers were hired by the department in the mid-1990s and worked as equipment operators. They resigned last summer.

In response to the thefts, the DOT urged facilities to take preventive steps such as powering down pumps when not in use and measuring pump use.



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