Whitesburg KY

Five are charged with stealing metal from Eolia-area coal mines

Four men and one woman have been charged with stealing more than $10,000 worth of metal from a Cumberland River Coal Company mine site in the Eolia area of Letcher County.

According to Kentucky State Police Trooper Michael Burton, officials with Cumberland River Coal, a subsidiary of St. Louisbased Arch Inc., had been complaining to KSP Post 13 in Hazard that metal was being stolen from several of their job sites in the Black Mountain area of Letcher County.

On March 21, a Cumberland River security guard told police he saw a red Chevrolet pickup truck and another vehicle leave a mine site loaded with metal. After Burton was informed of the complaint, he arrived in the Eolia area to find the pickup truck and a red Chevy Blazer on Kentucky Highway 806, just below the job site where they had been seen by the security guard.

After stopping the two vehicles around 12:57 a.m., Burton questioned the woman, 27-year-old Rebecca D. Lewis of 770 Bowman Creek, Eolia, who was a passenger in the Blazer. Lewis then told Burton that she and the other suspects with her had been out gathering scrap metal all day.

“I then contacted the mine and they sent (Cumberland River foreman) Kenneth Spangler, who identified the metal as coming from their job sites and belonging to them,” Burton wrote in an arrest citation.

Lewis and the other four suspects are each charged with theft by unlawful taking of property valued at $10,000 or more.

Also arrested were:

• William J. McCall, 51, of 9362 U.S. Highway 119S, Eolia. McCall was a passenger in the Chevy pickup. He also told Trooper Burton that he had been out gathering metal all day.

• John C. Maggard, 27, of 9392 U.S. Highway 119S, Eolia. Maggard was driving the red pickup. He also admitted that he had been out with the others collecting metal.

• Michael D. Morton, 25, of Brass Drive, Mayking. Morton, a passenger in the Blazer, also advised Burton he had been out collecting scrap metal that day.

• Gregory A. Caudill, 32, of 113 Highway 806, Eolia. Caudill, who was driving the Blazer, also told Burton that he and others had been out looking for scrap metal.

All five suspects appeared at a preliminary hearing in Letcher District Court last week, and all but Morton were released on house arrest with electronic monitoring after posting the required percentages of $10,000 property bonds.

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