Daniel Stansbury charged in blast scamBy Henry K. Lee
A fifth person has been charged with posing as a victim of the San Bruno natural gas pipeline explosion to get free gift cards and hotel accommodations, a prosecutor said today.
Daniel Stansbury, 41, of Los Altos allegedly double-dipped as a fake victim, misrepresenting himself as a San Bruno resident under his real name and also under an assumed identity. He pleaded not guilty Tuesday in San Mateo County Superior Court to burglary, identity theft, grand theft and falsely claiming aid.
Stansbury twice visited an assistance center that state disaster officials set up in San Bruno after the Sept. 9 blast that killed eight people and destroyed 37 homes in the city's Crestmoor neighborhood, said Steve Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney.
Stansbury used a fake name when he came to the center the day after the blast and his own name during his second visit Sept. 12, Wagstaffe said. Stansbury used two different addresses from the neighborhood to claim aid, allowing him to receive two $1,000 gift cards from Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which owned the pipeline that exploded, authorities said.
He also received free benefits including a rental car, a nine-day stay at the San Francisco International Airport Hilton and a four-day stay at the San Jose Hilton, Wagstaffe said.
Investigators who became suspicious of Stansbury found him Thursday at the San Jose hotel, authorities said. He had $5,900 in cash and "loads" of computer printouts showing addresses in the San Bruno disaster zone and forms to apply for aid, Wagstaffe said.
Stansbury had a pending misdemeanor theft case in San Bruno and had made a court appearance Sept. 20 while engaged in the blast-related fraud, authorities said.
He is being held on $100,000 bail.
Four other people have been charged with impersonating victims of the blast. Wagstaffe has called scam suspects "vermin" and said they would not be offered plea bargains.
Copyright ©2010 San Francisco Chronicle. Published 09/29/2010.