Man accused of ripping off Osceola gas station faces similar charges in Lake County

Gonzalo Almanza was out on bond for gas theft charges from last year

Gonzalo Almanza. (Copyright 2023 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – A man who was already on trial for fuel theft charges in Lake County has been arrested again, this time on fuel theft charges in Osceola County.

Gonzalo Almanza, 29, was arrested this week by the Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement, an agency within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The agency says Almanza was a co-conspirator in a plot to steal fuel from a RaceTrac station in Kissimmee. Harold Blanco was arrested in May on that case, but investigators say they linked Almanza to committing several felony fuel thefts.

Almanza was booked into the Osceola County jail and faces charges that include racketeering, obtaining fuel fraudulently, and unauthorized access to an electronic device.

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According to Lake County records, however, Almanza has been out on bond, and is on trial currently, for similar charges.

Last year News 6 reported that Almanza turned himself in after being suspected of stealing 393 gallons of gas from a Circle K in Eustis.

According to records with the Lake County Clerk of Courts, Almanza pleaded not guilty to charges including grand theft, unauthorized access to electronic equipment, obtaining fuel by fraud, unlawful conveyance of fuel and criminal mischief.

The records show Almanza posted bond with a surety company. There was supposed to be a plea negotiation conference on July 25 and a felony sentencing hearing on Aug. 7.

Fuel theft is a major crime across Florida, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture.

Agricultural Commissioner Wilton Simpson credited News 6 for helping to develop a new Florida law that went into effect in July, which created new penalties for using gas pump manipulators like Almanza is accused of using to siphon off gas.

While Almanza was arrested after the law went into effect, investigators say he committed his crimes prior to July, so it’s not known whether he will face any penalties stemming from the new law.

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Christie joined the ClickOrlando team in November 2021.