FRANKFORT — A Clark County couple have pleaded guilty to a combined 33 criminal charges after they stole copper wire from lighting systems on Kentucky highways, the state Transportation Cabinet announced Thursday.
Aaron Ferguson pleaded guilty Wednesday to 28 felony charges — seven counts of theft, seven counts of first-degree criminal mischief and 14 counts of being a persistent felony offender, according to a Transportation Cabinet news release.
His wife, Cindy Ferguson, pleaded guilty Monday to five misdemeanor counts of aiding the thefts.
The Fergusons were originally charged in 22 thefts, which occurred from April through November 2014. Copper wire was stolen from interstate and parkway lighting systems in nine counties: Fayette, Franklin, Bath, Grant, Jefferson, Laurel, Nelson, Scott and Woodford.
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The crimes occurred on Interstates 64, 65, 75, 265 and the Blue Grass Parkway.
The state is recommending 10 years in prison for Aaron Ferguson. He is to be sentenced Aug. 28.
Cindy Ferguson was sentenced to 12 months in jail, but the sentence was probated for two years.
Among the conditions of her probation was her cooperation in the prosecution of her husband.
Charges against the couple were aided by an informant who responded to a $2,500 reward by the state Transportation Cabinet.
A copper-wire theft investigation by the cabinet's office of inspector general coincided with multiple burglary and vehicle break-in investigations by Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue Jr.
The two agencies worked together to arrest the Fergusons, who were indicted in December.
State Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in a statement that he hopes the arrests and convictions end copper theft from lighting systems on Kentucky interstates and parkways.
"Theft of copper wire from highway lights has caused millions of dollars in damage — damage that far exceeds the value of the wire when it is sold for salvage," Hancock said.
Franklin Commonwealth's Attorney Larry Cleveland secured the indictments and the plea agreements.
The charges were brought in Franklin County because it's the site of state government and the Transportation Cabinet.