Former Luther interim mayor charged in copper theft

Ponca City Now - June 12, 2015 7:49 am

LUTHER, Okla. (AP) – A former interim mayor of an Oklahoma County town has been charged in connection to accusations of paying state Department of Corrections inmates to steal copper wire from tornado sirens.

The Oklahoman ( ) reports prosecutors filed charges Thursday against 66-year-old James Richard Smith. The former interim mayor of Luther faces six counts of stealing copper wire and one count of engaging in a pattern of criminal offenses.

Court documents say Smith directed three inmates on work release to strip copper and aluminum wire from six tornado sirens during a town cleanup in October. Smith was serving on the town’s Board of Trustees when the theft occurred.

Sheriff John Whetsel said repairs to the sirens are expected to cost about $31,000. According to Whetsel, Smith made less than $40 after paying the inmates.

An attempt to reach Smith was made through a town official.


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