Gavel stock

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Forest Service fleet manager from North Ogden who was accused of rigging a surplus truck auction and using a government credit card to fix up the vehicle has pleaded guilty to a theft charge.

Appearing Tuesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Dustin Pead, Robert Joseph Alexander pleaded guilty to one count of theft of government money. He is to be sentenced Dec. 10. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

According to an investigative affidavit and a May 30 grand jury indictment, Alexander was charged related to a transaction Dec. 12, 2017, in which his girlfriend, Jennifer Jean Nielsen, paid $6,900 for a 2012 Dodge Ram.

Alexander was assistant fleet manager with the Forest Service’s Region 4 office in Ogden.

Nielsen, whom federal agents said lives with Alexander in North Ogden, faces identical charges. She has pleaded not guilty.

Both remain free pending further court appearances.

In the auction, Nielsen submitted the highest of six bids. A receipt emailed to her described the truck as “an inoperable tow-away.”

According to vehicle price checks on Kelley Blue Book, a 2012 Ram 2500 with 80,000 miles could be worth $20,000-$35,000.

On Dec. 11, Alexander took the truck to a Riverdale dealership and had repairs and maintenance done, the affidavit said. The shop removed a spotlight, repaired a ticking noise in the exhaust manifold, replaced the brakes, resurfaced the brake rotors, did a fuel injection flush, performed a tuneup, changed the spark plugs and transmission fluid and flushed the cooling system, the affidavit said.

Alexander paid the $1,610 bill with a GSA-issued fuel card, agents said.

See what people are talking about at The Community Table!