A New Jersey man who thought he was headed to Aruba on vacation now finds himself in far less luxurious quarters after being arrested at the airport before boarding his flight to the Caribbean.
Lester Morales, 34, of Little Ferry, New Jersey, was charged with theft of services due to a million dollar debt racked by his truck company Do It Right Trucking.
“Unfortunately he was doing it wrong by racking up more than $1 million in unpaid tolls and administrative fees,” Col. Rick Fuentes, the head of New Jersey State Police told NJ Advance Media. Morales’ company was reportedly operating with a delinquent E-Z pass account, and has been running about 100 trucks a day through toll booths without paying the fee.
According to a State Police news release, Do It Right Trucking has been under investigation by the New Jersey State Police’s Criminal Investigations Office, which found that Morales had been accumulating toll debts for over a year. Through the investigation, the police learned that Morales was about to board a plane to Aruba from Newark Airport, and notified Port Authority Police who then arrested him. Morales pled not guilty and has a court date scheduled for February. He was booked and later released from Middlesex County Jail.
Despite the staggering amount of money owed, Morales’ lawyer said be believes authorities overreacted. This is not purposeful fraud,” Morales’ attorney Joseph Horn, characterized the debt as “clerical in nature,” told NJ Advance Meda. “This is oversight, at worst.” Horn said his client pay his debts, and criticized the circumstances of his arrest — just ahead of a short vacation.
If this was an effort to get his attention, well certainly that has happened,” Horn said. “But it seems like swatting a fly with a hammer.”
Photo: New Jersey State Police