Jason Woodring Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges Related to Attacks on Power Grid
LITTLE ROCK—Christopher R. Thyer, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas; David T. Resch, Special Agent in Charge of the Little Rock Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Grover Crossland, Resident Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)—Little Rock Field Office announced today that Jason Woodring, age 38, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, pleaded guilty today to charges related to his attacks on Central Arkansas’ power grid between August and October of 2013. Those attacks included sabotaging an electrical support tower and downing a 500,000-volt power line onto a railroad track near Cabot, Arkansas, which resulted in approximately $550,000 worth of damage; setting fire to and destroying an Extra High Voltage (EHV) switching station in Scott, Arkansas, causing over $4,000,000 in damages; and cutting down two power poles, which led to the temporary loss of power to approximately 9,000 people in Jacksonville, Arkansas. According to First Electric Cooperative representatives, damages from this incident exceeded $48,000. Woodring was charged in an 8-count indictment by a federal grand jury on November 6, 2013. He has been in federal custody since that time.
Pursuant to a plea agreement with the United States, Woodring pleaded guilty to Destruction of an Energy Facility for downing the Cabot power lines (Count Two) and for setting fire to the Scott power station (Count Three). He also pleaded guilty to Using Fire to Commit a Felony (Count Four) in relation to the arson in Scott. Finally, Woodring pleaded guilty to being an illegal drug user in possession of various firearms and ammunition (Count Eight) and agreed to forfeit the firearms and ammunition.
“The citizens of Central Arkansas can rest a bit easier today with the plea 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 cooperation and commitment to this investigation these past few months.” Under the plea agreement, the United States and Woodring have agreed that Woodring should be sentenced to 180 months (or 15 years) in federal prison. The presiding judge, the Honorable Billy Roy Wilson, will determine his actual sentence. The amount of restitution owed by Woodring will be determined at or before his sentencing hearing scheduled for June 18, 2015, at 10:30 a.m.
The charge of Destruction of an Energy Facility carries a possible sentence of not more than 20 years in prison. Use of a Fire to Commit a Felony has a statutory sentence of ten years which must be served consecutive to the underlying felony. The charge of being a Drug User in Possession of a Firearm or Ammunition carries a possible sentence of not more than ten years in prison. Woodring could also face not more than a $250,000 fine for each charge against him and not more than three years of supervised release.
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.