A longtime Menlo Park public works employee has been arrested for stealing about $1,800 worth of fuel from the city's pumps for personal use, police announced Wednesday.

Juan Gonzalez Alvarez, 51, of Redwood City, was booked Tuesday on felony charges of embezzlement by an employee, second-degree burglary and grand theft, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office.

Alvarez was a tree maintenance worker employed by the city since November 1986, said Human Resources Director Gina Donnelly. As of Wednesday, he no longer works for the city, she said.

Public works contacted police in April to relay suspicions that an employee was illegally taking gas from pumps in the city's corporation yard at 333 Burgess Drive. Police launched an investigation that led them to Alvarez, said Cmdr. Dave Bertini.

"Each city vehicle is assigned a special gas key; you put in the mileage of the vehicle and you pump your gas," Bertini said Wednesday. "You're only supposed to use it for work vehicles."

Bertini declined to divulge whether Alvarez pumped the gas directly into a personal vehicle, put it in a container or stole it by other means, saying that information is part of an investigative report that police handed to the District Attorney's Office. Alvarez stole approximately $1,800 worth of gas over an 18-month period, Bertini said.

On Tuesday, police called Alvarez to the police station and arrested him after questioning.


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Alvarez was booked into jail at about 6:30 p.m. and released on $25,000 bail by 9 p.m., Chief Deputy District Attorney Karen Guidotti said. He is scheduled to report to court Aug. 27 for possible arraignment, she said.

Email Bonnie Eslinger at beslinger@dailynewsgroup.com; follow her at twitter.com/bonnieeslinger.