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DOT 'help driver' accused of stealing gas

May 26, 2011 3:16:00 PM PDT
A New York State so-called "help driver" who was supposed to help stranded motorists that ran out of gas is accused of stealing the gas he should be dispensing.

Investigators say he used it for his own car.

The state is so proud of its so-called help teams; it put this video on its website paying tribute to the road warriors who lend a helping hand when you break down.

"They will radio for a tow, they'll get police, they'll change your tire, they will give you a boost," the video says.

Or even give you a gallon or two of gas for free, if you happen to run out.

But now, one of those drivers is accused of helping himself to taxpayer funded fuel.

"He's stealing money, he's stealing money. We got to pay every day," said a driver.

The deception discovered by a DOT supervisor at a yard in Syosset, who spotted 38-year-old worker Brian Lee filling up his own car with gas from his help truck.

The DOT forwarded the case to the office of State Inspector General Ellen Biben, which conducted surveillance on Lee, and audited four months worth of his records.

According to this report, "Of 32 instances of lee reporting having given fuel to a stranded motorist, 10 [drivers] reported that they never received assistance of any kind."

When confronted with the discrepancies, "Lee admitted that in some instances, he listed false activity to appear busier than he actually was."

And he admitted to filling up his own car at least twice saying, "He did not have money to purchase gas" for himself.

Eyewitness News tried to find Lee Thursday but no one came to the door at his Bay Shore home.

Eyewitness News did find plenty of taxpayers at a gas station that didn't have much sympathy for his plight.

"He's working for the state and he's taking state money and gas is pretty expensive. That's our taxpaying money," said Sandy Miller, a Malverne resident.

"It kind of makes you angry though because it seems like more people are trying to scam because of the situation and the problems that we have," said another motorist.

The Inspector General's office forwarded the case to the Nassau County DA for potential prosecution.

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