For Immediate Release - April 11, 2013

Former Laundromat Owner Indicted on Charges of Tampering with Gas Meters, Stealing more than $214,000 from Gas Companies

Also Charged for Failing to File Income Tax Returns

BOSTON – The former owner of multiple laundromats has been indicted in connection with stealing more than $214,000 from gas companies by tampering with gas meters, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced today. He has also been charged with failing to file his income tax returns for six years.

Steven R. Bankert, age 56, of North Attleboro, was indicted today by a Statewide Grand Jury on the charges of Larceny over $250 (6 counts), Willful Injury or Interference with Gas Meter or Other Property (10 counts), and Failure to File Income Tax Returns (6 counts).

“We allege that this defendant tampered with multiple gas meters at laundromats he operated,” AG Coakley said. “He allegedly manipulated the meters in order to bilk utility companies out of hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

The AG’s Office began an investigation in August 2011 after Columbia Gas filed a complaint with the office. The company suspected tampering and theft of gas by Bankert after they detected low and erratic consumption patterns. The AG’s investigation determined that from 2008 to 2012, Bankert, a licensed electrician, allegedly tampered with ten gas meters at six laundromats he owned in Attleboro, Brockton, Lawrence and Worcester for the purpose of stealing natural gas. Bankert allegedly stole approximately $205,000 in gas from Columbia Gas and more than $9,000 from NStar.

According to investigators, Bankert has also not filed any income tax returns for tax years 2006 to 2011.

A Statewide Grand Jury returned indictments against Bankert today. He is scheduled to be arraigned at a later date.

These charges are allegations and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Berge of AG Coakley’s Fraud and Financial Crimes Division, with assistance from Investigator Kevin Floster from the AG’s Financial Investigations Division, Department of Revenue Investigator John Miles, and State Police assigned to the AG’s Office.

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