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Arkansas man charged in connection with power grid sabotage

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
updated 10:48 PM EDT, Sat October 12, 2013
Authorities say a tractor was used to cut down two electric poles near Cabot, Arkansas, on October 5.
Authorities say a tractor was used to cut down two electric poles near Cabot, Arkansas, on October 5.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jason Woodring, 37, was arrested Saturday by federal authorities
  • Woodring is accused of carrying out three attacks on the grid over three months, authorities say
  • He is expected to make his first court appearance on Tuesday

(CNN) -- A Jacksonville, Arkansas, man has been charged in connection with attacks on the power grid in a rural area of the state, the U.S. Justice Department said Saturday.

Jason Woodring, 37, was arrested on a federal criminal complaint charging him with destruction of an energy facility, the Justice Department said.

Woodring is accused of carrying out multiple acts of sabotage, targeting high-voltage power lines and a substation over a period of months, that knocked out power to thousands, the agency said.

Woodring was arrested Saturday after authorities found evidence similar to those used at one of the sabotage sites, authorities said.

"Interviews were conducted and information from these interviews was connected to previous grid attacks resulting in the arrest of Woodring," according to a statement released by the the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Woodring is expected to make his first court appearance on Tuesday.

Federal authorities began investigating the reports of sabotage on August 21 after someone brought down one of multistate utility Entergy's high-voltage transmission lines in Cabot.

That was followed by fire set at a control house at a substation in Keo, about 25 miles south of Cabot, on September 29, the FBI said.

The FBI has said investigators suggested the perpetrator in the August attack had "above-average" electrical skills.

In the August incident, someone attempted to use a cable to catch a moving train to bring down the tower, Entergy spokeswoman Julie Muntsell said. The perpetrator also removed bolts from the base of the 100-foot tower, contributing to its downfall, she said.

In the substation fire, the suspected arsonist left behind a message: "You should have expected U.S." was inscribed on a control panel, the bureau reported.

The FBI said removing bolts from the tower "would have created substantial noise" during the early-morning incident, the FBI said in a written statement.

On October 5, power was knocked out to thousands of people after someone cut into, then used a tractor to pull down, two electrical poles in Cabot. The power lines were owned by First Electric Cooperative.

CNN's Scott Thompson and Matt Smith contributed to this report.

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