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Old 10-12-2012, 03:00 AM
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Default Duke Energy workers indicted for stealing, selling company materials
COVINGTON, Ky. - Employees of Duke Energy are accused of stealing company operating materials and selling them to establishments in Northern Kentucky.


A federal grand jury returned an indictment Thursday charging nine people, four of whom worked for the gas and electric company at its regional office located in Hamilton County, Ohio, with conspiracy to transport goods in interstate commerce, transporting stolen goods in interstate commerce, receiving stolen goods and conspiracy to launder money.


Employees of Duke Energy allegedly conspired with others and a local recycling facility owner to transport copper wire from company job sites to Northern Kentucky with the intention of selling it.


According to the indictment, the alleged conspiracy lasted from approximately 2006 until around the middle of November 2010.


The defendants in the case include Duke's former maintenance and construction supervisor Keith Kremer, 45, of California, Ky., and Cincinnati resident Dennis Johnson, 38, who owns the recycling facility that is alleged to have been aiding sale of the stolen goods.


The other defendants are Michael T. Rinehard, 44, of Hebron Ky.; Troy J. Shira, 41, of Hebron; 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, Ky.


The four Duke Energy employees indicted no longer work for the company.
The indictment indicates Duke Energy uses copper wire to help deliver electricity to customers in the Tri-State. Duke's construction workers are responsible for replacing old copper wire and installing new wire on an ongoing basis.


According to the indictment, Duke's work crews are supposed to take excess copper wire to the company's recycling plant on Dana Avenue. The suspects in this case are believed to have sold the extra wire to metal recycling facilities in Kenton, Campbell and Boone counties. The proceeds from the sales were divvied up among the conspiracy members, police say.
The investigation by the IRS, Office of Criminal Investigations was conducted after Duke Energy contacted authorities about the situation.
The charges of transportation of stolen goods and conspiracy carry maximum penalties of 10 years and five years in prison, respectively. The money laundering and receipt of stolen goods charges both carry maximum sentences of 20 years in prison.


A date for the defendants to appear in court has not yet been set.

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Old 10-19-2012, 06:20 AM
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Default 9 indicted in copper thefts from Duke; 4 are ex-workers
COVINGTON — Federal prosecutors say nine men – including four former Duke Energy employees – stole copper wiring from the utility in Ohio and sold it to recycling centers in Northern Kentucky.
The men were indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday with conspiring to transport goods in interstate commerce, transporting stolen goods in interstate commerce, receiving stolen goods and conspiracy to launder money.
Former Duke maintenance and construction supervisor Keith Kremer, 45, of California, Ky., conspired with former co-workers Michael T. Rinehard, 44, of Hebron; Troy J. Shira, 41, of Hebron; and Kobie K. Baker, 38, of Cincinnati, to take copper wiring from Duke job sites and transport it to Kentucky, according to federal prosecutors. The crimes took place from 2006 to November 2010, according to Kyle Edelen, spokesman for Kerry Harvey, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. Edelen said the value of the stolen wiring was not listed in the indictment.
Duke workers were supposed to take excess copper wire from construction sites to the utility’s recycling plant on Dana Avenue in Cincinnati.
Instead, the men sold it for cash to metal recycling facilities in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties and divvied up the proceeds among them, Edelen said.
The utility uses copper wire to help deliver electricity to customers in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.
Duke’s construction workers are responsible for replacing old copper wire and installing new wire on an ongoing basis.
Duke spokeswoman Sally Thelen confirmed the criminal investigation was launched after the utility’s internal security officers identified a problem in 2010.
“We have been very aggressive in addressing the problem and we took swift action,” she said.
“This is an unfortunate situation and we hope it doesn’t reflect on the great people who work here.”
Thelen said additional protocols have been established to prevent future copper thefts. She said to reveal what those protocols were would defeat their purpose of preventing thefts.
Copper theft has been a growing national trend, and Thelen stressed it was not unique to this region.
The owner of a Cincinnati-area recycling business, 38-year-old Dennis Johnson, was the fifth man indicted. Johnson, owner of Right-Now Recycling, assisted in the conspiracy to transport the copper wiring to Kentucky , Edelen said.
The other men indicted were Frederick L. Buckler, 44; Justin T. Franzen, 22; Jordan M. Franzen, 23, all of Alexandria; and Joseph Martin, 46, of California, Ky.
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Old 10-19-2012, 06:27 AM
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COVINGTON — Federal prosecutors claim a ring, which included former Duke Energy employees, made nearly a half-million dollars from selling copper wiring stolen from the utility.

The ring made $469,535 selling the wire to recyclers after it was stripped of its insulation and cut up, according to the indictment. Prosecutors and Duke will not put a dollar amount to the undamaged wiring or say how much was stolen.


The theft occurred over a nearly four-year period before Duke notified law enforcement in November 2010. The employees, including a supervisor, are accused of taking wiring left over from jobs in Hamilton County and selling it to recyclers in Northern Kentucky, instead of returning it to Duke.


Nine men – including four former Duke employees – pleaded not guilty Thursday in federal court to charges of conspiring to transport goods in interstate commerce, transporting stolen goods in interstate commerce, receiving stolen goods and conspiracy to launder money.


U.S. Magistrate Judge Candace Smith scheduled a trial in the case to begin on Dec. 3. She also allowed the men to remain free on their own recognizance.


Prosecutors also revealed a 10th person, Thomas McGill, has been charged in connection to the conspiracy. He secretly pleaded guilty on May 31 to conspiracy to launder money and agreed to pay back $68,000 that was his share of the profit. Some property he is forfeiting to pay off his restitution includes a wire stripping machine, a Ford pickup truck, and a metal trailer.


McGill is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 4. He faces up to 20 years in prison.
Former Duke maintenance and construction supervisor Keith Kremer, 45, of California, Ky., conspired with former Duke cable splicers Michael T. Rinehard, 44; Troy J. Shira, 41, both of Hebron; and Kobie K. Baker, 38, of Cincinnati; to use their positions within the utility to advance the conspiracy, according to the indictment.


Kremer’s attorney, Ben Dusing, said his client is looking forward to defending himself in court. During Thursday arraignment federal prosecutors asked the Smith to remove Dusing as Kermer’s counsel. The grounds for the request to disqualify Dusing, a former federal prosecutor, are not public because they were outlined in a sealed motion.
The cable splicing crews were responsible for installing new copper wire and replacing old copper wire as routine maintenance to Duke’s underground electrical grid in Hamilton County. At the end of each day, the crews were supposed to return excess wire to Duke’s Dana Avenue facility in Cincinnati for recycling.

Instead, the wire was transported to undisclosed locations in Northern Kentucky where it was cut into smaller sections and stripped of its outer coatings, according to the indictment. Prosecutors allege the copper was then sold to metal recycling companies in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties. The recyclers usually paid cash which was split among the conspirators, according to the indictment.


The indictment outlines six specific dates the stolen copper was allegedly sold between 2006 to mid-November 2010.


SWAT-style raids on six recyclers last year in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati were related to this investigation, Dusing said.


Dennis Johnson, 38, of Cincinnati is the only owner of a recycling company charged in the conspiracy. He owned Right-Now Recycling in Cincinnati. The indictment states Johnson, a friend of Rinehard, picked up stolen copper wire several times from 2006 through 2010 in Boone County and transported it to his recycling business in Ohio.
The other men charged are Frederick L. Buckler, 44; Justin T. Franzen, 22; Jordan M. Franzen, 23, all of Alexandria; and Joseph Martin, 46, of California, Ky. The Franzens are brothers.
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Old 10-19-2012, 06:51 AM
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I know that selling used copper wire can bring quite a bit of money. On this scale though, it could be huge!
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