A commercial truck driver was sentenced yesterday to three years' probation for stealing $35,758 from the U.S. Postal Service using a government credit card.

As part of the sentence, Kevin Dixon, 47, of Albanus Street near Front, in Olney, must serve 30 days in prison on the weekends, then five months of house arrest and must make restitution of $35,758.

U.S. District Judge Curtis Joyner ordered Dixon to begin his prison sentence in two weeks.

Prosecutors had sought an advisory guideline sentence of six to 12 months behind bars.

Defense attorney James J. McHugh Jr. argued for probation, noting that Dixon had no prior criminal record, had confessed immediately when confronted by federal postal inspectors in June 2008 and was remorseful for his misconduct.

Dixon told Joyner that he was "embarrassed and hurt," adding: "This was not a good thing for me. . . . I'm truly sorry."

Authorities said that Dixon had worked for a trucking company that the Postal Service had hired to haul large quantities of mail.

The contractors are given government credit cards to purchase fuel for official work only.

But Dixon also used the credit card to buy fuel at Philadelphia-area gas stations - for himself and others - from July 2007 to June 2008, authorities said.

Prosecutor James J. Puchala said that he didn't know how often Dixon had used the government card to buy gasoline for personal use but that sometimes he made multiple purchases on the same day.

Joyner initially sentenced Dixon to a month in prison and three years of supervised release, with the first five months under house arrest.

But Dixon told the judge that if had to serve a month in prison, he would almost certainly lose his job and wouldn't be able to provide for his daughters. (He drives a commercial rig between Pennsylvania and Ohio, McHugh said.)

McHugh suggested that Dixon be permitted to serve his one-month prison sentence intermittently - during weekends.

Puchala said that the feds didn't object.

Joyner warned Dixon not to get into any more trouble.

"I'm telling you straight up: You have one violation . . . you won't have to worry about the sentence the next time and you won't have to worry about a job because I'm going to send you away," he said.