WICHITA - A Scammon man has pleaded guilty to pulling down an electrical pole in an effort to steal copper wire, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a release today.
Jeffrey L. Blake, 39, Scammon, Kan., pleaded guilty to one count of damaging an energy facility. In his plea, Blake admitted that on Sept. 7, 2011, the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office received a call of damage to property belonging to Heartland Rural Electric Company. When deputies arrived at the intersection of Kansas highway 103 and NE 10th in rural Cherokee County, they discovered Blake had stolen copper wire by pulling down an electrical pole, causing a second pole to fall. The destruction of the poles and theft of wire caused a radio station whose tower was at the site to be off the air for several hours.
About an hour and a half later deputies responded to a report of a possible theft in progress at a home on Highway 7 just north of Columbus.
According to Cherokee County Sheriff David Groves, officers arrived to find the homeowner, holding Blake, of rural Scammon, at gunpoint.
Deputies then discovered the missing wire in Blake's vehicle and arrested him on felony theft and felony criminal damage charges.
Sentencing is set for April 30. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000. Grissom commended the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, the FBI and Assistant U.S. Attorney Lanny Welch for their work on the case.