FRANKFORT, KY. – A Clark County man and woman were indicted on Tuesday, December 15, 2015, on felony charges involving theft of copper wire from highway lighting systems on Interstate 64 and two Kentucky parkways.
Acting on information developed by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) Office of Inspector General and the office of Clark County Sheriff Berl Perdue Jr., a Franklin County grand jury returned a 28-count indictment against Brian Bentley and Cindy Ferguson, both of rural Clark County. Each is charged with seven counts of theft by unlawful taking and seven counts of first-degree criminal mischief – all Class D felonies. In addition, Bentley is charged with 14 counts of being a persistent felony offender.
The investigation uncovered a series of thefts at vandalized lighting systems at interchanges on I-64 in Bath and Carter counties, the Bluegrass Parkway in Woodford County and the Mountain Parkway in Clark County. The thefts were reported on various dates in October and November.
Investigators determined that about 34,300 feet of wire had been cut and removed for sale to metal recyclers. The preliminary estimate by Transportation Cabinet engineers is that repairs at the four interchanges will cost more than $116,000. KYTC Acting Secretary Mike Hancock said the crime victimized taxpayers who ultimately pay the bill.
“Once again, the public is required to repair damage that far exceeds the value of the wire when it is sold for salvage,” he said. “It’s a double loss to taxpayers because the cost of repairing vandalized highway lights takes away from other maintenance responsibilities of the Transportation Cabinet.”
The indictment was the second in a year against Ms. Ferguson, who last December was charged along with her now-estranged husband, Aaron Ferguson, in a string of copper wire thefts from highway lights in nine Kentucky counties.
Aaron Ferguson was sentenced in August 2015 to 10 years in prison on 33 felony counts of theft, criminal mischief and being a persistent felony offender. Cindy Ferguson pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor counts of criminal facilitation to theft. She was sentenced to 12 months in jail, probated for two years.
Cindy Ferguson and Bentley were arrested together at a residence on Kiddville Road in Clark County. Evidence gathered against the couple was turned over to Franklin County Commonwealth’s Attorney Larry Cleveland. He presented the case on December 15, 2015, to the Franklin County grand jury, which returned the indictment. The charges were brought in Franklin County because it is the seat of Kentucky state government and site of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s headquarters.
Though the current criminal case was developed without a confidential informant, the Transportation Cabinet, in cooperation with Kentucky State Police, offers a reward of up to $2,500, paid from KYTC maintenance funds, for information leading to criminal prosecution of those responsible for copper wire theft from highway lights. The reward offer is open to anyone who can provide the necessary information, and their identities can be kept confidential.
Those with information can report it in multiple ways:
Call the Kentucky State Police Hotline, (800) 222-5555. Call Mike Duncan, KYTC Office of Inspector General, at (502) 316-1982 or (502) 564-0501. By confidential text message. For texting a tip, the address is 67283. Type KSPTIP in the message field, leave a space and enter information about a crime. If the tip goes through, the sender will receive an instant confirmation text. Texting is completely confidential and telephone callers’ names also can remain confidential.