McDowell men convicted in copper thefts - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

McDowell men convicted in copper thefts

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WELCH, W.Va. (AP) -- Three McDowell County men have been convicted in connection with copper thefts that left hundreds of residents without telephone service.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reports that 23-year-old Buddy Blankenship was convicted Friday of conspiracy and damage to a public utility. Twenty-six-year-old Haskell Blankenship and 30-year-old Ricky Johnson Jr. were convicted of conspiracy in the theft of copper wire from telephone lines. No date has been set for sentencing.

McDowell County Prosecuting Attorney Ed Kornish said the charges stemmed from the June 2012 theft of copper from telephone lines in Panther. He said up to 250 people were without phone service for more than a day. Kornish said phone outages caused by copper thefts can be life-threatening in areas like western McDowell County, where cell phone service is lacking.

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