Lee woman denies stealing copper from Florida wind farm

This story has been amended to correct the number of people arrested at the hotel and the number of people later charged with similar crimes.

PITTSFIELD -- One of nine people allegedly involved in the theft of copper wire from an area wind farm denied 10 charges and was released on personal recognizance.

The Massachusetts State Police allege Gina M. Arnold, 32, of Lee, was involved in the large-scale theft of specially designed copper wire from the Hoosac Wind Project atop Bakke Mountain in Florida and sold the copper in October and November to local scrap metal dealers.

The one-inch diameter wire is specially designed for a wind turbine and was valued at about $38,000, according to police.

The suspects dug under a security fence surrounding the facility and cut sections of wire off two large spools, investigators said.

They were arrested after allegedly selling the copper to local scrap metal yards.

According to Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Joseph Yorlano, there were two groups of people who were involved in thefts of wire from the wind farm.

Arnold was arrested in November along with three others in a Pittsfield motel where police said they found the stripped outer covers of wire, tools used to cut the wire, and drug paraphernalia. Five others were later charged with similar crimes.

On Tuesday in Berkshire Superior Court, Arnold appeared with attorney Richard D. LeBlanc and denied multiple counts of felony receiving stolen property over $250 and wanton destruction of property along with single counts of larceny over $250, trespassing and being present where heroin is kept.

The Berkshire DA's Office did not ask for bail in the case and Judge John A. Agostini set bail at personal recognizance with the condition Arnold stay away from the wind farm.

She remained in custody on unrelated charges as of Tuesday afternoon and is due back to court on this case on June 19.

Dylan Greiter, 24, of Northampton, was supposed to be arraigned on similar charges Tuesday but didn't show. His lawyer, Richard S. Taskin, said his client also defaulted at a district court arraignment in North Adams and that there were questions about his living situation. He asked the court to postpone the arraignment until Thursday. If Greiter doesn't show on Thursday a warrant will be issued for his arrest.

He is facing multiple counts of receiving stolen property over $250 and malicious destruction of property and other charges.

Six others have already been arraigned in the case.

On March 13 in Superior Court, Jamene Hinckley-Morrison, 32, of Pittsfield, denied eight charges similar to Arnold's.

Mark A. Bednarz, 47, and Tiffany Bednarz, 25, and Shelley R. Meehan, 41, all of Adams, denied charges on March 12. Mark Bednarz pleaded not guilty to five charges -- four counts of receiving stolen property over $250 and a single count of wanton destruction of property. The two women pleaded not guilty to single counts of receiving stolen property over $250.

On March 11, Brian D. McAdoo, 35, pleaded not guilty to four charges and Eric M. Alfonso, 30, denied two charges. Both men are from Adams.

All of the defendants were released on personal recognizance.

Eli Waters, 33, of Pittsfield, is scheduled to be arraigned today on 12 charges, including multiple counts of receiving stolen property over $ 250 and malicious destruction of property.

The investigation was conducted by state troopers assigned to the Cheshire barracks.

The wind farm built by Iberdrola Renewables puts out enough power to sustain 10,000 homes. It cost more than $50 million to build and was heralded by Gov. Deval Patrick as part of his renewable energy initiative in Massachusetts at its December 2012 opening.

To reach Andrew Amelinckx:
or (413) 496-6249.
On Twitter: @BE_TheAmelinckx


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