NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York City officials say nine companies and 44 individuals have been indicted following a long-term investigation into widespread fraud in the heating oil business.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and other officials announced the indictments Tuesday.

The authorities say that for nine years the defendants shorted oil deliveries but charged customers full price. They say in some cases they then sold the stolen oil at below-market costs.

Vance estimated the scheme brought in $34 million.

“As alleged in the indictments, the defendants accomplished this pervasive and long-standing theft through something called ‘shorting,’ which means simply delivering less oil to the customer than the meter on the tanker trucks shows what’s delivered,” Vance told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Kelly Waldron and 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa.

The dozens of customers included city courthouses and schools as well as churches and residential apartment buildings. Even the building housing the Manhattan DA’s office was an alleged victim.

Among those charged are 29 truck drivers, fuel depot dispatchers and company owners. Officials say they installed bypass valves on tanker trucks to rig meters. They say some company tax returns were inaccurately filed to hide fraudulent oil resales.

The defendants are facing felony charges, including enterprise corruption, grand larceny.

The companies that have been charged are F&S Distribution, Casanova Fuel Oil and Express Petroleum of the Bronx; G&D Petroleum Transportation, G&D Heating Oil, 4th Avenue, All Boro-Transportation and Enterprise Transportation of Brooklyn; and Century Star of Westchester County.

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