A 29-year-old Rio Rancho man was sentenced to 18 months probation and ordered to pay nearly $1,700 in restitution for his pleading guilty Monday to using a U-Haul truck to steal nearly 500 gallons of environmentally friendly biodiesel fuel from a Santa Fe gas station in December.
Michael Puzak, standing beside his defense attorney Dan Marlowe, pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony charge of larceny of more than $500 but less than $2,500 and admitted he was also convicted in August 2006 of stealing an estimated $500,000 in fuel in Albuquerque and reselling it.
Santa Fe police on Dec. 4 arrested Puzak after they say he was able to activate a fuel pump at the Giant gas station at 1229 Cerrillos Road and pumped the fuel into 11 55-gallon drums and two 250-gallon fuel tanks, according to a police report.
Puzak told a judge he has a child on the way and is re-enrolling in college where he plans to major in business.
State District Judge Stephen Pfeffer accepted the plea agreement, but noted “it seems pretty generous that the state isn’t seeking incarceration.”
Assistant district attorney JoHanna Cox said there are no plans to seek prosecution of anyone else in connection with the December fuel heist.
The fuel was on consignment at the Giant station from the Santa Fe company Renewable Energy Partners, which is the victim Puzak has agreed to pay the $1,698.24 restitution to. That sum is based on the amount of fuel he stole at the Dec. 4 rate of $3.48 per gallon.
Here is a link to a story we published in December about Puzak’s arrest: