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Kansas Copper Case Leads to Federal Indictment

‘He just hooked it to his pickup and pulled it down’

The maximum penalties facing a Kansas man who has been indicted in a copper theft case are 30 years and a half-million dollars.

The Wichita Eagle reported that a federal grand jury indicted Jeffrey L. Blake for allegedly stealing copper power lines serving Pittsburg, Kan.-area stations KKOW(AM/FM), owned by American Media Investments, as well as KPRS(FM), licensed to Pittsburg State University. The incident occurred in early September.

The federal charges are “attempted damage to a communications system” and “attempted damage to an energy facility,” according to the Eagle article. “The indictment alleges that on Sept. 7, Blake damaged equipment used by KKOW, which serves as part of the Emergency Alert System, a national public warning system,” the paper reported. “Damage to KRPS’s equipment wasn’t included in the federal charges because that station isn’t part of the national warning system.”

KKOW engineer Jerry Tibbetts was quoted as saying, “We’ve had copper stolen before … but no one has wrapped a rope around a pole. He just hooked it to his pickup and pulled it down.”

If convicted, Blake faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 on the charge of attempting to damage an energy facility, and up to 10 years and $250,000 on the charge of attempting to damage a communications facility.