Attacks on the power grid in Central Arkansas in August-October 2013 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.
The attacker also set fire to and destroyed an extra high voltage switching station in Scott, Arkansas, causing over $4 million in damages, and he cut 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 the power pole incident exceeded $48,000.
In custody since 2013
Jason Woodring, 38, of Jacksonville, Arkansas, was charged in an eight-count indictment by a grand jury on November 6, 2013. He has been in federal custody since that time.
Early in 2015, Woodring pleaded guilty to destruction of an energy facility for downing the Cabot power lines and for setting fire to the Scott power station. He also pleaded guilty to using fire to commit a felony in relation to the arson in Scott. Finally, Woodring pleaded guilty to being an illegal drug user in possession of various firearms and ammunition and agreed to forfeit the firearms and ammunition.
The charge of destruction of an energy facility carries a possible sentence of not more than 20 years in prison. Use of fire to commit a felony has a statutory sentence of 10 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 10 years in prison. Woodring could also face a $250,000 fine for each charge against him and not more than three years of supervised release.
15 years in prison
Under the plea agreement, the United States and Woodring have agreed that Woodring should be sentenced to 15 years in federal prison. A judge will determine his actual sentence. The amount of restitution owed by Woodring will be determined at or before his sentencing hearing scheduled for June 2015.
“The citizens of Central Arkansas can rest a bit easier with the plea of Jason Woodring,” said Christopher R. Thyer, U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Arkansas. “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.”