Southern Utah News Articles
Grand Jury indicts man for Garkane substation outage
A federal grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday, February 14, charging Stephen Plato McRae, 57, Escalante, with one count of destruction of an energy facility. The indictment alleges McRae knowingly and wilfully damaged and attempted to damage the Garkane Energy Cooperative’s Buckskin substation in Kane County on Sept. 25, 2016.
The indictment was announced by U.S. Attorney John W. Huber, FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric K. Barnhart, and Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover.
The investigation showed that a person shot and damaged a substation transformer at the facility. The indictment alleges the incident caused a significant interruption and impairment of the function of the energy facility. Power was knocked out to the majority of Kane and Garfield counties, affecting residents and businesses in the counties. The power outage lasted about eight hours.
McRae was initially charged with possession of a firearm after a felony conviction in a complaint filed in November. The complaint alleged he was in possession of a Springfield Armory, 30-40 rifle, Model 1898 rifle and associated ammunition. Federal law prohibits individuals convicted of a felony from possessing firearms or ammunition.
Based on information developed from a confidential witness, law enforcement officers from the Kane County Sheriff’s Office and agents with the FBI executed a federal search warrant on Oct. 28, 2016, at a location in Escalante and found the firearm in the bottom of a container. Inside the magazine, at least two rounds were observed from viewing the magazine’s contents through the ejection port of the rifle, according to the complaint. Investigators found an additional 16 rounds of unused 30-40 ammunition in a separate enclosure inside the container.
McRae was charged with the firearm violation and one count of possession of marijuana in a federal indictment returned in November 2016. He has been in custody since his arrest on the complaint.
The indictment returned Wednesday, which added the destruction of an energy facility count, supersedes the November indictment.
The potential maximum penalty for destruction of an energy facility is 20 years in federal prison. The firearm count in the indictment has a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and the possession of a controlled substance has a potential two-year penalty. Each count has a potential fine of $250,000. An initial appearance on the superseding indictment will be scheduled for McRae in federal court.
Indictments are not findings of guilt. Individuals charged in an indictment are presumed innocent unless or until proven guilty in court.
The case is being investigated by special agents of the FBI and the BLM, who are participating as members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, and the Kane County Sheriff’s Office. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Garkane would like to thank all those involved in bringing this case to prosecution, especially the Kane County Sheriff’s Office for providing many hours of dedicated resources to this particular case.