by Alex Lloyd Gross
It’s not scrap wire laying around. It is copper wire used by Verizon to place 911 and other call across the globe. It was stolen right off the pole, police said. It was attached to utility poles, Yesterday, authorities kicked down the doors of most of those that were involved in the thefts and placed them under arrest.
Ryan Jeffrey Potts, 33, of Bensalem; Marianna Harkins, 36, of Bristol Township; Michael John Cronon, 39, of Bristol Township; Paige Eiseman, 33, of Bristol Township; Frederick E. Lee Sr., 64, of Bristol; Richard Machen, 43, of Bristol; Nicholas Palmer, 27, of Bristol Township; and Raymond Gerald Paul Jr., 38, of Doylestown.
In one case, some of the alleged thieves would pose as volunteers in Lower or Upper Makefield to search for missing people swept away by the floods. This despicable act was further enhanced because the gang of thieves only targeted that area because the wire was bigger than in other areas. Meaning they could sell it for more money. Meanwhile 911 services were disrupted when they were needed the most.
Police said they would climb a pole, clip off the wire and then burn off the outer layer to expose the copper. They would then sell that wire as scrap. At times the fire department would get called due to the thick smoke.
Frederick E. Lee
Potts, is also accused of getting someone to purchased a gun for him as he was not allowed to legally have one.
The utility wire thefts happened all over lower Bucks County. They called themselves the “Get Money Squad” and were in operation from May through October of this year. They were charged with :
Corrupt organizations, Ciminal conspiracy, Theft, Receiving stolen property, Theft of metal, Dealing in proceeds of unlawful activity, Criminal mischief, Criminal use of a communication facility and disruption of service. Police continue to search for the ninth, Ann Mayger of Bristol Twp.
Bail was set at $500,000 for all defendants except Potts and Harkins.They got a $600,00 bond each. Ray Paul is from Doylestown, police said.