Skip to comments.Duke Energy Employees Implicated in Massive Copper Theft ($25 Million)
Posted on 02/10/2012 4:57:40 AM PST by TSgt
It could be the biggest copper theft in U.S. history and it's apparently been going on here in the Tri-State for years. It involves a massive on-going federal investigation. In a story you'll see only on Local 12, reporter Rich Jaffe adds up the cost of a missing treasure chest of "red gold".
In February of last year, agents from the Internal Revenue Service and the FBI along with police from Cincinnati, Blue Ash and a couple of Northern Kentucky agencies executed federal search warrants at numerous locations around the Tri-State. Among other places they hit were Garden Street Metals, Blue Grass Recycling, Newport Recycling, and what was Right Now Recycling in Blue Ash. "I didn't understand but why they had to pull their guns when they know clearly who we are and what we are here and the kind of search warrant it was, wasn't called for having to draw their guns."
The owner of Garden Street Metals says investigators took almost 30 boxes of files, along with computer hard drives and disks, although to date no charges have been filed against his company. We now know the investigators were looking for information that could connect the scrap yards to a select group of Duke Energy employees who over a period of years allegedly stole as much as $25 million worth of copper from the company. "It was a small group of guys where you had 6 or seven that were on the take, a third of an entire department was stealing millions of dollars."
We agreed not to identify this Duke worker in order to protect his job. He and others told me there had been a lot of speculation in recent years, about how some of their co-workers could afford their lavish lifestyles. The workers involved were employed in the Underground Electric Department of Duke, and as you would expect had supervisors and managers above them. "There's no way that they would have not been aware of all this theft, it's impossible for them not to have known."
What the employees were allegedly stealing was reel after massive reel of copper wire, each one worth s much as $30,000 at a scrap yard. "They should have never been able to steal like they did. This is millions of dollars that went on for years."
Apparently staked out for Duke workers, in December of 2010, according to documents obtained by Local 12, Blue Ash police charged two men, Larry Ratliff and Harold Lee Daugherty with receiving stolen property after they allegedly sold $31,000 worth of Duke copper to Right Now recycling. Daugherty and Ratliff came from a Columbus union pool of electrical workers hired by Banta Electric to do a job for Duke. Local charges against the pair were dropped when the U.S. attorney took over the case. Banta was never charged.
In August of last year members of the same task force, including federal agents and local police descended on this building in rural Campbell County. It was allegedly a storage facility for much of the stolen copper. This was also reportedly the center of a stripping operation where two men were paid to clean the heavy insulation off the stolen wire. "We had no idea that this was all going on over there at all, we had, we were clueless when we found out about this. I didn't like the idea of living across the street from something like that at all."
While it's hard to imagine how something as big as a huge roll of coper could just disappear, people close to this investigation tell me it's as simple as adding and subtracting. The Duke employees would order in say three rolls of copper, but when they took possession of them only two would end up on the job site...and the other one would end up in a place like this. "There's no way you should be able to get by with ordering that much excessive material, a roll of wire is somewhere around $25,000 and we're talking smaller rolls. These guys were stealing roll after roll after roll and there's no way management wouldn't have known."
As Duke prepares for a merger with Progress Energy which will make it the largest utility in the country, officials are also bracing for indictments coming from the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky Robert McBride seen here in a different story. What no one except McBride knows is just how far into the company those indictments will reach.
Initially no one at Duke was willing to talk with us on came, however, officials at the company recently changed their minds about that and on Thursday morning, asked their spokeswoman to talk to a limited degree about their side of the investigation. "We learned of criminal activity within our workforce and immediately took action to reach out for law enforcement for assistance. We knew this was something that we'd need their help with and our security department here at duke identified the problem and began that outreach. We 100 percent looked at this looked at what we could do to strengthen internal controls and that's absolutely been done."
Duke officials say as a result of their investigation, they have so far terminated four employees and are leaving the rest of the case and the investigation in the hands of the U.S. Attorney. While Duke has terminated some employees, no one at Duke Energy has been criminally charged. A Justice Department spokesman says no one from the U.S. Attorney's office can comment about an on-going investigation, and there's no word about when the indictments might be handed down. When that happens, we'll let you know.
I guess the same goes for the engineers that laid out the jobs and authorized materiel orders.
Instead of lobbying for Obama’s Cap and Trade legislation on CNBC, perhaps Duke Energy’s CEO should have been watching how much copper was walking out the door of his company.
It’s not just Union types, it’s everywhere. Back home, my mom and dad’s telephone service has become irregular because of the damned copper thieves, who local law enforcement can’t seem to catch. It hasn’t dawned on the police that the scrap dealers are the key since they know what’s going on and who’s involved, and are essentially acting as fences for the stolen cable.
They are exactly copying the example set by the Duke trustees and administration.
Here in NJ had crackheads unbolting sections of aluminium
guard rails and selling them.
Cops busted druggie dragging one down shoulder of I 80
Set up sting and started arresting scrap dealers for
receiving stolen property - that stopped it quick
Do you know if OH and KY levy taxes on Duke for every foot of cable reported to be placed as utilities in other states are? If so, I imagine Duke should have some rather large rebates coming.
Years ago my line crew had to repeatedly rebuild a toll circuit, south of Kansas City, of 106 open wire, #6 copper. SWBT security and the county sheriff could not apprehend the thieves because my foreman was part of the operation. He knew when the entire length of the circuit was free and clear for the taking. Eventually the operation ended when the foreman and his associates began selling new rolls of telephone cable out of the cable yard. The foreman simply charged the cable off as being placed in the ground. I assume he never thought that sending splicers out to work on cable that wasn’t in the ground would trigger any red flags.
When I read about these situations I wonder where personal integrity went as a cherished value. Many are deteriorating into a third world mentality where everything presents an opportunity...legal or illegal. This mentality undermines a civilized society. These ghouls are psychopathic.
Anyone who has spent any time in the business realizes that this goes much further up the food chain than just labor. My guess is that management in both the sub(s?) AND Duke are involved.
There's the stinking cherry atop this dog poop sundae.
I know they put every last capital penny spent into their rate case which is brought before PUCO where they request higher rates.
Thus $25M of CAPEX needs to be removed from recent rate cases and electrical rates reduced.
IF, and that's a big if, this is thoroughly looked into, it's gonna open up a really big can of worms.
"It's a great brainwashing process which goes very slow and is divided into four basic stages.
The first stage being "demoralization".
It takes from 15 to 20 years to demoralize a nation. Why that many years? Because this is the minimum number of years required to educate one generation of students in the country of your enemy exposed to the ideology of [their] enemy. In other words, Marxism-Leninism ideology is being pumped into the soft heads of at least 3 generation of American students without being challenged or counterbalanced by the basic values of Americanism; American patriotism.
--KGB Defector Yuri Bezmenov--Soviet Subversion of the Free Press (Ideological subversion, Destabilization, CRISIS - and the KGB)
You would think that when a guy comes in with brand new reels of copper cable date coded in the last 12 months or so, the scrap yard might have some interest in how it was acquired?
It wasn’t like this was some stuff that they found cleaning out grandpa’s barn 60 yr old barn.
My Embrace Diversity v. 101.1 program won’t load this morning, so I will unload on the Liberalism which is at the core of this copper theft issue.
Duke Power, as a utility company, gets a guaranteed percentage of profit . Were Duke actually market driven, theft on this scale would not be possible. Just one more consequence of allowing government into daily life.
Fascinating. Thanks for the post—I’m down in the Blue Ridge Carolinas, and wondering what crookedness Duke is up to...merging with a company called “Progress”? **Shudder!!**