Prosecutors: Amtrak Engineer Ran 7-Year Chain Saw Scheme

Agents say Jose Rodriguez obtained the equipment for work purposes, sold it
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 14, 2021 4:42 PM CST
Amtrak Engineer Admits to Running Chain Saw Scheme
A traveler exits an Amtrak train ahead of the Thanksgiving Day holiday at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2021.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

A New Jersey man who worked for Amtrak for nearly 15 years now faces up to 20 years in prison for what he admitted doing on the job. Federal officials say Jose Rodriguez of Brick, NJ, obtained equipment under the guise of needing it for projects he was doing as part of his job as a senior engineer but then selling it. Prosecutors say the 49-year-old had been running the scheme for the last 7 years, and that it ultimately totaled up to 114 chain saws and 344 chain saw parts. The equipment was worth $76,000, per the DOJ. Rodriguez on Monday pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud connected to his use of the Postal Service to mail the equipment to purchasers, who bought it from Rodriguez himself or via an online auction.

The New York Times has more on what agents with the Amtrak Office of Inspector General detailed in court documents: They say Rodriguez sometimes reached out to a potential buyers on the very day he got the equipment from Amtrak. Further, they say some of the chain saws they recovered had the same serial numbers as ones in Amtrak's inventory. Rodriguez was arrested on March 8, 2021, and was at the time charged with theft from an agency receiving federal funds and theft of government property. As a result of an agreement made around Monday's guilty plea, those other charges won't be pursued. Rodriguez faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. He'll be sentenced in April. (More Amtrak stories.)

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