Southern Utah News Articles
McRae pleads guilty to destruction of Garkane Energy facility
Stephen Plato McRae, age 59, Escalante, who was charged with one count of destruction of an energy facility in an indictment returned in February 2017, pleaded guilty to the charge Friday, May 10, 2019, in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.
U.S. Attorney John W. Huber, FBI Special Agent in Charge Paul Haertel, and Kane County Sheriff Tracy Glover announced the plea agreement Friday afternoon.
In stipulated facts included in the plea agreement, McRae admitted that he traveled to the Buckskin Electrical Substation in Kane County on Sept. 25, 2016. Garkane Energy Cooperative owns the substation. Using his Springfield 30-40, Model 1898, rifle, McRae admitted he fired shots into the cooling fins rupturing the radiator piping. The damage from the rifle shots caused the energy facility substation to overheat and fail. McRae’s actions caused a power outage in Kane and Garfield counties.
Garkane spent $380,522 to repair the damage caused by McRae’s criminal conduct.
The plea agreement includes a stipulated sentence of 96 months in federal prison, which is subject to the approval of the court. Sentencing in the case is set for July 30, 2019, before U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart. McRae is in federal custody.
As a part of the plea agreement, McRae also admitted that he damaged other energy facilities for which he has not been charged. The United States and local prosecuting authorities have agreed not to seek charges for these offenses. However, these incidents will be included as relevant conduct the court will take into consideration in determining the reasonableness of the stipulated 96-month sentence.
The other offenses include damage McRae caused to the Libson Valley Substation in San Juan County on April 1, 2015; damage he caused to the Quinn River Substation in Humboldt County, Nevada on Aug. 31, 2016; and damage he caused to the Baker Substation in White Pine County, Nevada, on Sept. 14, 2016.
McRae has agreed to pay $380,522 in restitution to Garkane Energy Cooperative. He faces up to three years of supervised release when he finishes his federal prison sentence. As a part of the plea agreement, McRae agreed that he would not reside in or travel through six Utah counties (Garfield, Kane, Wayne, Juab, Iron and Washington) during the term of his supervised release. Garkane Energy Cooperative, Inc. has energy facilities in these counties.
As a part of the plea agreement, federal prosecutors have agreed to dismiss two other counts included in the indictment, possession of a firearm/ammunition by a restricted person and possession of a controlled substance, at sentencing.
Special agents of the FBI and the BLM, who are participating as members of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, the Humbolt County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada, and the White Pine County Sheriff’s Office in Nevada have participated in the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys in Utah are prosecuting the case.