State police charge 3 in elaborate gas-for-cash scheme
An elaborate plot to exchange cash for gasoline at a discounted rate on a stolen credit card was thwarted when the credit card owner noticed an exorbitant amount of charges, police said.
State police have identified three people facing theft charges in the scam — Vicki J. Stadterman, 50, of Spring Street, Yukon; Richard Paul Woloshun, 28, of Williams Lane, North Huntingdon; and Joseph Paul Babilya, 22, of East Main Street, West Newton.
Babilya is in Allegheny County Prison for unrelated charges. Stadterman and Woloshun were arraigned and released on $10,000 unsecured bond.
Telephone numbers for Stadterman and Woloshun are not listed. Their attorneys are not yet listed in online court records.
Over a one-year period, the trio rang up $55,266.28 worth of gasoline on a stolen Sunoco Fleet credit card at 11 Sunoco stations throughout the region, state police spokesman Steve Limani said.
They allegedly approached people at the pumps and said they had won the card, but preferred cash.
They would offer to pay for gasoline on the card and ask for only half of the total in cash from the driver, Limani said.
It started when Woloshun found the card when he was employed with D&A Auto Auction in New Stanton and cleaning out a car for sale in March 2011, according to an affidavit of probable cause. A telephone number for the auction company has been disconnected.
Woloshun told police he then used the card until October 2011, when he traded the card to Babilya for several stamp bags of heroin, according to the affidavit.
“Unfortunately, most of our property crimes have a tendency to lead toward drugs and things of that nature,” Limani said. “This one isn't any exception.”
In February 2012, Woloshun allegedly sold the card to Stadterman for $500 or $600, according to the affidavit.
It is unclear how Woloshun regained the card from Babilya and sold it to Stadterman.
Police said attempts were made to interview Babilya, who was incarcerated, but he refused.
Stadterman told police she had the card for about three months and used it herself and let others use it in exchange for cash.
At first, Stadterman told police that she had no idea the card was stolen.
She later admitted, “I probably should have known not to take a card from Richard because he has a bad reputation,” according to the affidavit.
A loss-prevention investigator for Sunoco detected the scheme and contacted state police in June 2012.
All three suspects are charged with theft by deception, access-device fraud and criminal conspiracy.
Preliminary hearings for Stadterman and Woloshun have been set for Tuesday before Youngwood District Judge James Falcon. A preliminary hearing for Babilya has not been set.
Amanda Dolasinski is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6220 or email@example.com.