Transportation Cabinet
Clark County man, woman plead guilty to copper theft charges

Press Release Date:  Thursday, July 09, 2015  
Contact Information:  Chuck Wolfe
Chuck.Wolfe@ky.gov
Office of Public Affairs
502.782.4829
Cell 502.382.7665
 


Crimes targeted wiring of highway lighting systems on interstates, parkway

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 9, 2015) – A Clark County man and woman have pleaded guilty to a combined 33 criminal charges involving theft of copper wire from lighting systems on Kentucky highways.

Aaron Ferguson entered guilty pleas on July 8, 2015, to 28 felony charges – seven counts of theft by unlawful taking or disposition of property, seven counts of first-degree criminal mischief and 14 counts of first-degree persistent felony offender. The Commonwealth is recommending a sentence of 10 years in prison – five years for each of the theft and criminal mischief charges, to be served concurrently, and five more years by Ferguson’s status as a persistent felony offender in the first degree. Sentencing is scheduled Aug. 28, 2015.

Ferguson’s wife, Cindy Ferguson, entered guilty pleas on Monday, July 6, to five misdemeanor counts of criminal facilitation to theft. She has been sentenced to 12 months, probated for a period of two years.   Among the conditions of her probation was that she cooperate in the prosecution of Aaron Ferguson.

Charges against the Fergusons were developed with the assistance of an informant who responded to the offer of a $2,500 reward by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC).

A copper-wire theft investigation by the KYTC Office of Inspector General coincided with multiple burglary and vehicle break-in investigations by Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue Jr., and the two agencies teamed up to apprehend the Fergusons.

Last December, Aaron Ferguson and Cindy Ferguson each were indicted on 22 counts of theft and 22 counts of first-degree criminal mischief. Aaron Ferguson also was indicted on 44 counts of being a persistent felony offender in the first degree.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said he hoped the arrests and convictions put an end to copper theft on Kentucky highways.

“This type of theft victimizes the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and also Kentucky taxpayers who ultimately pay the bill for replacing wiring and repairing vandalized lights,” Secretary Hancock said. “We are pleased to see that those responsible are being sentenced appropriately for their crimes. Theft of copper wire from highway lights has caused millions of dollars in damage – damage that far exceeds the value of the wire when it is sold for salvage.”

Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland, using the investigators’ findings, presented a case to the Franklin County grand jury and secured the indictments and ultimately the plea agreements.

Aaron Ferguson and Cindy Ferguson were originally charged for 22 incidents, from April through November 2014, in which copper wire was illegally taken from interstate and parkway lighting systems in nine counties – Bath, Fayette, Franklin, Grant, Jefferson, Laurel, Nelson, Scott and Woodford. The crimes occurred on Interstates 64, 65, 75 and 265 and the Bluegrass Parkway.

The charges were brought in Franklin County because it is the seat of Kentucky state government and site of KYTC headquarters.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Cleveland stated that the convictions were the result of solid work by investigators Ashlee Graham, Chuck Hines and Mike Duncan of the KYTC Office of Inspector General.

In an effort to prevent further thefts, KYTC and Kentucky State Police continue to offer a reward of up to $2,500, paid from KYTC maintenance funds, for information leading to criminal prosecution of those responsible for copper wire theft from highway lights. The reward offer is open to anyone who can provide the necessary information, and their identities can be kept confidential.

Those with information can report it in multiple ways:

•        Call the Kentucky State Police Hotline at 800-222-5555.
•        Call Investigator Chuck Hines, KYTC Office of Inspector General, at 502-330-0441 or 502-564-0501.
•        By confidential text message.

For texting a tip, the address is 67283. Type KSPTIP in the message field, leave a space and enter information about a crime. If the tip goes through, the sender will receive an instant confirmation text. Texting is completely confidential and telephone callers’ names also can remain confidential.


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