Two men arrested in phone wire thefts

Published 9:28 am Friday, March 15, 2013

Two Pedro men are facing a total of 30 charges each following an almost 10-month investigation by the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office into copper wire thefts across the county.

Brian K. Bloomfield, 34, and Randy L. DePriest Jr., 30, both of 272 Private Drive, Pedro, were arraigned Thursday in Ironton Municipal Court in front of Judge O. Clark Collins.

Each man is facing 16 counts of disrupting public service, a fourth degree felony, and 14 counts of tampering with evidence, a third degree felony.

The charges are in connection with multiple thefts of copper wiring from AT&T phone lines starting in June of 2012 that were taken to scrap yards after the insulation was burnt off. The thefts occurred in isolated areas of the county.

During this period phone outages would be reported. When AT&T service personnel would check on the outages, they would find phone cables cut and lengths of copper between 50 and 1,200 feet taken, according to Sheriff Jeff Lawless.

The arrests came after deputies “worked the scrap yards trying to match up the copper they would receive by weight and volume,” Lawless said. “We found some of the insulation hadn’t burned all the way off and we could match up the numbers.” The cost of the damage is estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, Lawless said.

The investigation remains ongoing.

“We have several other cases we are trying to attach to these two and there are other people implicated in the thefts,” the sheriff said.

Bond was set at $75,000 cash or $150,000 property for each man. DePriest was assigned Gene Meadows from Scioto County for his attorney and Roger Smith of Huntington, W.Va., will represent Bloomfield.

They remain in Lawrence County Jail.