(Hebron, Ky.) - Nine people, four of them former Duke Energy employees, are accused of conspiring to steal copper wiring from the utility company.
Two of those arrested are from Hebron – Michael T. Rinehard, 44, and Troy J. Shira, 41. The others are Keith Kremer, 45, of California, Ky.; Dennis Johnson, 38, of Cincinnati; Kobie K. Baker, 38, of Cincinnati; Frederick L. Buckler, 44, of Alexandria, Ky.; Justin T. Franzen, 22, of Alexandria; Jordan M. Franzaen, 23, of Alexandria; and Joseph Martin. 46, of California.
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky says each of the suspects has been indicted for Conspiracy to Transport Goods in Interstate Commerce, Transporting Stolen Goods in Interstate Commerce, Receiving Stolen Goods, and Conspiracy to Launder Money.
The men were part of a group of former Duke workers who were supposed to take excess copper wiring to Duke’s recycling facility in Cincinnati. Instead, the group allegedly took the wiring and sold it as scrap at metal shops in Boone, Campbell, and Kenton counties.
The men would then share the profits. The thefts occurred over a period of about four years, 2006 through 2010.
Federal prosecutors said Johnson owned one of the recycling facilities which allegedly assisted in selling the stolen copper.
If convicted, each of the suspects face a long time behind bars. Prosecutors said the Conspiracy to Launder Money and Receiving Stolen Goods charges each carry a maximum penalty of 20 years. Transporting Stolen Goods in Interstate Commerce is punishable by 10 years, while Conspiracy to Transport Goods in Interstate Commerce could net up to five years.