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Man charged with cutting ground wires from poles pleads guilty

June 07, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

Almost two months after several utility poles were stripped of copper wire, a Hagerstown man has pleaded guilty to theft.

Jeffrey Lynn Morris, 41, of 102 Harvard Road, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of theft over $500, according to Washington County District Court records. One count of theft under $500 was dismissed.

Charging documents say Morris cut ground wire from 13 poles along Howell Road, which runs between Edgewood Drive and Mount Aetna Road, on April 16.

One resident reported seeing a man use a ladder to cut wire from a pole and contacted Allegheny Power.

The man had a white pickup truck that said "UtiliQuest." Morris worked for UtiliQuest, which marks underground lines for construction projects, but had no reason to be in Hagerstown for his job, according to charging documents.

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Police said they learned that Cumberland Valley Recycling paid Morris $189 for 60 pounds of bare copper wire.

Allegheny Power spokesman Todd Meyers said Morris had to climb up the poles to cut the ground wire, which is designed to protect the system from surges.

With copper prices high, thefts have risen.

"It's become a rash," Meyers said.

Morris was ordered to pay Allegheny Power $3,460.60, according to court records. That includes $600.60 for 195 feet of wire and $2,860 for labor and parts to replace the wire.

Morris is scheduled to return to Washington County District Court on Aug. 5 for sentencing.

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