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Trucker accused of peddling stolen cheese at New Jersey Turnpike rest stop

By David Jones

NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - An Illinois truck driver has been released on bail after being charged with allegedly trying to sell 21 tons of stolen Muenster cheese, valued at $200,000, at a New Jersey Turnpike rest stop, police said.

Veniamin Balika, 34, was charged with receiving stolen property and fencing following his arrest at the Vince Lombardi service area, according to New Jersey State Police.

The cheese came from K&K Cheese, manufacturers in Cashton, Wisconsin, police said. K&K told local media that Balika, of Plainfield, Illinois, used fake documents to make off with the 42,000 pounds of Muenster cheese that was to have been shipped to Texas.

Balika was arrested on Tuesday trying to sell the cheese from his truck at the rest stop in Ridgefield, New Jersey, police said.

"He was attempting to sell a load to the first available buyer," said New Jersey State Police Sergeant Adam Grossman.

The cheese is being held in a refrigerated truck at the Middlesex County, New Jersey, Health Department.

Middlesex County is making arrangements with the legitimate buyers in Texas to come and it up, officials said.

(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Andrew Hay)