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Former Laundromat Owner Indicted on Charges of Stealing Natural Gas

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Photo: ©iStockphoto/DNY59

Staff Writer |

BOSTON — The former owner of several Massachusetts Laundromats has been indicted in connection with allegedly tampering with gas meters and stealing natural gas valued at approximately $214,000, Attorney General Martha Coakley’s Office announced Thursday.

A statewide grand jury indicted Steven R. Bankert, 56, of North Attleboro, Mass., on charges of larceny over $250 (six counts), willful injury or interference with gas meter or other property (10 counts), and failure to file income tax returns (six counts).

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

Her office began investigating Bankert in August 2011 after Columbia Gas filed a complaint. The company suspected tampering and theft of gas after detecting low and erratic consumption patterns.

The investigation determined that from 2008 to 2012, Bankert, who is a licensed electrician, allegedly tampered with 10 gas meters at six Laundromats he owned in Attleboro, Brockton, Lawrence and Worcester for the purpose of stealing gas from Columbia Gas valued at approximately $205,000 and from Nstar valued at more than $9,000.

Investigators also allege that Bankert has not filed income tax returns for the years 2006 to 2011.

He is scheduled to be arraigned at a later date.

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