Men headed to trial in diesel gas theft
VICTORVILLE, Jan 23, 2013 (Daily Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Two men accused of stealing about 50 gallons of diesel fuel from a Victorville gas station and striking the owner with a pump were ordered to stand trial.
After a preliminary hearing Tuesday morning, Victorville Judge Debra Harris ruled there was probable cause to believe LJ Allen and Jason Eric Cable committed the crime.
Preliminary hearings are held for judges to decide whether the prosecution has sufficient evidence to hold defendants for a jury trial.
Harjinder Dhami, owner of the Valero gas station near Village and Mojave drives, took the stand Tuesday as the only witness and testified to what happened on Jan. 2.
The defendants arrived at the station in the morning and parked their white Dodge truck at a pump on the far side from the food shop, Dhami said. Cable came in and pre-paid $10 for gas.
Then other vehicles parked in between the truck and the store, blocking Dhami's view of the truck, and other drivers walked into the store, Dhami said. When they didn't leave for nearly an hour, Dhami got suspicious and walked out of the store.
The other vehicles took off before he saw Allen and Cable pumping diesel gasoline into two white plastic drums in the back of the truck, Dhami said. Dhami and the defendants got into a scuffle, and Dhami got hit in the head with a fuel pump, according to Dhami. The defendants took off, he said.
The owner called 911, and the defendants were arrested a few days later.
According to Dhami, the defendants tampered with the pump so that the fuel would keep flowing, though this illegal method dramatically slows down the flow. Such tampering is common today, he said.
Diesel fuel costs about 40 cents more than the regular unleaded gasoline.
Jodi Miller, spokeswoman for the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department, said she hasn't seen an increase in the theft of gas.
Allen and Cable are charged with one felony count of robbery, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in state prison. Because Cable has prior convictions, he could face up to 14 years in prison if convicted, Deputy District Attorney Paul Levers said.
The prosecution offered four years in prison for Cable and two years for Allen, but they rejected the plea bargains.
The defendants were ordered to return to Victorville court Feb. 6 for arraignment.
Tomoya Shimura may be reached at (760) 955-5368 or TShimura@VVDailyPress.com. Follow Tomoya on Facebook at facebook.com/ShimuraTomoya.
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