A Malden MA man has pleaded guilty in federal court to participating in a scheme to steal gasoline from a Gulf Oil tank farm in Chelsea MA, according to information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Mihran Zeitounian, 49, was charged with two counts of receiving gasoline that was stolen from interstate shipments of fuel. Three other defendants in the case pleaded guilty earlier to stealing the gasoline.

Up until the time of these incidents, one of the co- defendants, Frank Romano, who previously pleaded guilty, worked at the Gulf facility. Miguel Carlo, another co-defendant, worked as a driver for one of the independent companies that transport gasoline from the Gulf facility.

Around midnight on May 7, 2001, Romano and Carlo stole 10,000 gallons of gasoline by tapping into a pipeline in a remote part of the Gulf facility and filling a tanker truck with fuel. Carlo then delivered the stolen gasoline in the early morning to World Gas, a retail service station located at 875 Main Street in Malden owned by Zeitounian.

According to the federal prosecutor, Zeitounian paid Carlo $8,000 in cash for the stolen gasoline. The price of 80 cents per gallon for the stolen gasoline represented a 50 percent discount off the price Gulf was charging retail service stations at the time for gasoline.

A second theft of a tanker full of gasoline, containing another 10,000 gallons, occurred May 21, 2001, involving Romano, Carlo, and Michael Richards, another defendant who has also pleaded guilty. The second theft occurred during the early morning hours of May 21, 2001 and was caught on videotape by Gulf management. This second load of stolen gasoline was also delivered to Zeitounian's World Gas station in Malden in exchange for $8,000 in cash.

Zeitounian faces a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine on each count, as well as restitution, according to the information.