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Two charged with attacks on four power substations in Washington state

<i>Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/AP</i><br/>A Tacoma Power crew works at an electrical substation damaged by vandals on December 25
Ken Lambert/The Seattle Times/AP
A Tacoma Power crew works at an electrical substation damaged by vandals on December 25

By Holmes Lybrand and Hannah Rabinowitz, CNN

Two men were arrested on New Year’s Eve for allegedly shutting down four Washington state power substations in late December that led to power outages for thousands across Pierce County.

Matthew Greenwood and Jeremy Crahan have been charged with conspiracy to damage energy facilities and Greenwood faces a separate charge of possessing illegal short-barreled rifles.

According to court documents, Greenwood, 32, and Crahan, 40, plotted to knock out power from four substations. While power was out in the first two facilities, the pair broke into a local business to steal from the cash register, Greenwood allegedly told investigators after his arrest.

Greenwood got into the substations by cutting through fences and locks, prosecutors say, and tampered electrical breakers and with something called the “bank high-side switch.” For all but one attack, Crahan allegedly stayed outside and acted as a getaway driver.

The two cut off power to thousands of locals and caused at least $3 million worth of damage, according to charging documents.

Investigators identified Greenwood and Crahan almost immediately after the attacks took place by using cell phone data that allegedly showed both men in the vicinity of all four substations, according to court documents. Surveillance images cited in the court documents also showed images of one of the men and of the getaway car.

When Greenwood was arrested in a trailer Saturday, law enforcement also found two short-barrel rifles, which they say Greenwood did not legally own.

The two face up to 20 years behind bars if convicted of conspiring to attack energy facilities. No defense lawyers were listed on the public docket as of Tuesday.

Though investigators have repeatedly warned in recent months of a rise in threats to critical infrastructure by anti-government groups and domestic extremists, prosecutors did not highlight any association between the two defendants in this case and any such organization.

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