3rd electrical line thief sentenced

Troy Petersen's mug shot from the Kent County Correctional Facility. (April 22, 2015)

PAW PAW, Mich. (WOOD) — The last of three men who cut down live electrical lines near Grand Junction to strip for scrap copper has been sentenced to jail.

On Tuesday, Troy Petersen was sentenced to a least 180 days in the Van Buren County Jail with credit for seven days served, and costs and fees totaling $958.

On Feb. 12, Petersen, Cameron Smith and Dustin Wesche cut down several hundred feet of live electrical line that ran along CR-388 near Grand Junction in Van Buren County. Consumers Energy discovered the theft after several customers in Grand Junction lost power.

 
(The suspects in the copper wire theft. Left to right: Cameron Smith, Dustin Wesche and Troy Petersen. Feb. 16, 2015)
(The suspects in the copper wire theft. Left to right: Cameron Smith, Dustin Wesche and Troy Petersen. Feb. 16, 2015)

The three men were identified after police released surveillance photos of them a gas station convenience store near the scene of the theft.

Smith contacted 24 Hour News 8 directly after the images were broadcast and published online, saying there was no theft and the whole thing was a misunderstanding — a story he later changed. According to court documents, Smith admitted the trio was out to steal telephone lines, which they intended to strip for copper that they would sell for scrap, and only took the electrical lines because they were damaged as the telephone lines came down.

Wesche and Smith turned themselves in to authorities in March, shortly after larceny charges were filed against them. In July, Wesche was sentenced to a work crew and Smith to probation and restitution.

Petersen, who has 2013 copper theft conviction of Wyoming, remained at large for some time before being arrested in April by troopers from the Michigan State Police Rockford Police. Authorities said he then tried to take his own life by asphyxiating himself with a telephone cord at a Kent County courthouse, but he survived.

On July 27, he pleaded guilty to one of the charges against him and the others were dropped under the terms of a plea agreement.

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