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Rail Worker Accused of Swiping $1.8M

FORT WORTH (CN) - Former Burlington Northern Santa Fe worker Matthew Wyrick was charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in a scheme that allegedly cost the railroad $1.8 million.

Wyrick, 35, of Olathe, Kan., was indicted in Fort Worth Federal Court along with his father-in-law, Robert Steele, 64, of Gardner, Kan. Steele has surrendered to federal authorities in Kansas City, Kan.

According to the one-count indictment, Wyrick, who was authorized to approve invoices for payment to BNSF contractors, conspired with Steele to defraud the railroad between March 2005 and August 2007. The two men operated S&S Erectors.

Wyrick allegedly recruited BNSF vendors to submit fraudulent invoices, and approved them for payment. The vendors then paid kickbacks to Wyrick, prosecutors said.

"Over the course of the scheme, Wyrick and Steele caused S&S Erectors to bill BNSF over $1.8 million," prosecutors said in a statement.

"Steele paid Wyrick more than $600,000 of the proceeds from S&S Erectors' contract with BNSF."

S&S Erectors also allegedly submitted 21 invoices totaling $328,948 to BNSF for hazardous waste disposal.

Prosecutors say the invoices were fraudulent because the waste disposal was not "hazardous" and S&S Erectors disposed of it for less than $10,000.

If convicted, each man faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

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