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Olmsted Falls man sentenced in FirstEnergy copper thefts

By Josh Boak
Beacon Journal staff report

An Olmsted Falls man will spend two years in prison for his role in a seven-member copper theft ring that targeted two dozen substations in Northeast Ohio owned by either FirstEnergy or Cleveland Public Power.

U.S. District Judge Benita Pearson also ordered William Bertini, 26, to pay more than $206,000 in restitution to FirstEnergy.

Bertini and six others pleaded guilty earlier this year to conspiracy to damage power facilities.

Those previously sentenced were: Christopher M. Butts, 27, of Cleveland, to four years in prison; Jason B. Kauffman, 35, of Cleveland, to three years in prison; Julio Torres, 46, of Cleveland, to two years in prison; Jon T. Lefort, 26, of Cleveland, to one year in prison, and Keven Wenson, 22, of Lakewood, to two years of supervised release.

Michael T. Butts, 33, of Brooklyn, is scheduled to be sentenced early next year.

The thefts took place between January and May and included substations in Brooklyn, Parma, Brecksville, Fairlawn, Medina, Cleveland, Wadsworth, Lakewood, Cuyahoga Heights, Independence, Vermilion, Lorain, Avon Lake, Westlake and Valley View. The thefts also caused power outages.

The 24 substations targeted had copper material around their bases for the transmission of electricity.

Authorities charge that Christopher and Michael Butts instructed the others on how to safely remove the copper.

The defendants collectively sold the stolen copper for just over $15,000. They have collectively been ordered to pay $242,626 to FirstEnergy Corp. for the damage caused.

The FBI, Avon Lake, Brecksville, Middleburg Heights and Valley View police departments and Medina County Sheriff assisted in the investigation.


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