Jacksonville Man Arrested for Recent Attacks on Power Grid
|U.S. Attorney’s Office October 12, 2013|
LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas, and James Hendricks, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced today that Jason Woodring, age 37, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, was arrested on a criminal complaint charging him with destruction of an energy facility.
The affidavit filed with the complaint alleges that Woodring is responsible for multiple acts of sabotage to the power grid in Central Arkansas. Yesterday, Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office deputies received multiple calls regarding an explosion on John Shelton Road in Jacksonville, Arkansas. Deputies and Entergy employees determined the explosion occurred under power lines near Woodring’s residence. Agents from the FBI and Joint Terrorism Task Force called to the scene observed a type of blue hose similar to evidence found at another power grid sabotage scene. Interviews were conducted and information from these interviews was connected to previous power grid attacks resulting in the arrest of Woodring today. It is anticipated that an initial appearance in federal court will be scheduled for Tuesday.
“The citizens of Central Arkansas can rest a bit easier today with the arrest of Jason Woodring,” stated Thyer. “The power grid attacks had the potential to put many lives at risk. When we depend on electrical power not only for comfort and convenience, but also for safety, security, and life-sustaining equipment, not knowing where the next attack would occur held the public hostage to an unknown attacker. I am extremely grateful to all the investigators from the FBI; Joint Terrorism Task Force; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Union Pacific Police; Entergy; First Electric; Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office; Cabot Police; Arkansas State Police; Conway Police Department; Little Rock Police Department; and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission for their commitment to this investigation these past few months.”
“I am so proud of the collective team effort of all those who worked so diligently in investigating the attacks on our power grid,” stated James Hendricks, Acting SAC for the FBI’s Little Rock Office. “This dedicated team worked tirelessly to resolve this matter before anyone was hurt, for which we should all be especially thankful.”
The power grid investigation began on August 21, 2013, with the sabotage of a high voltage power line support tower. Investigation of the 100-foot tower revealed that a shackle which holds a 500,000 volt power line was severed. Additionally, over 100 bolts securing the support tower had been removed leaving only five bolts to hold the tower and the power lines it carried in place. Due to the cut shackle, a power line fell on a nearby railroad track and was later struck by a passing train severing the power line causing a brief power outage in Cabot, Arkansas. Entergy was able to reroute power to mitigate the affect this outage had on its customers. Blue hose similar to that found at and near Woodring’s residence was found around this sabotage site.
A second attack on the power grid occurred September 29, 2013, at an Entergy Extremely High Voltage (EHV) switching station in Scott, Arkansas. According to the affidavit, local authorities responding to notification that alarms were indicating multiple problems at the station found the EHV station on fire. A message in black marker at the entrance to the station read, “You should have expected U.S.” Entergy representatives estimate the damage to the switching station to be $2 million.
On October 6, 2013, a third incident was reported by First Electric Cooperative (FEC), which experienced a power outage in Jacksonville, Arkansas. This outage caused the loss of power to approximately 9,000 customers. An investigation by FEC and the FBI revealed two power poles had been cut and one pulled down causing the downing of a 115,000-volt transmission line. The tractor allegedly used to pull down the pole was stolen from a location directly across the street from Jason Woodring’s residence.
This investigation was conducted by the FBI; Joint Terrorism Task Force; Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives; Union Pacific Police; Entergy; First Electric; Lonoke County Sheriff’s Office; Cabot Police; Arkansas State Police; Conway Police Department; Little Rock Police Department; and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Assistant United States Attorney Michael Gordon is prosecuting this case for the United States.
The charges set forth in a complaint are merely allegations. A federal grand jury will decide whether to indict on these charges. If indicted and convicted on this charge, Woodring faces a possible sentence of not more than 20 years imprisonment and/or a $250,000 fine, followed by three years supervised release. Woodring is presumed innocent until proven guilty.