APG employee pleads guilty to stealing copper wire on the job

Bel Air man stole from government buildings, underground, agreement says

August 07, 2012|By Kevin Rector, The Baltimore Sun

An employee at Aberdeen Proving Ground pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing tons of copper wire from government buildings and other locations in Harford County while on the job, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Baltimore.

Timothy J. Bittner, 52, of Bel Air, used work vehicles and his experience as an electrician in the APG Department of Public Works to conspire with others to steal thousands of dollars worth of the metal from inside government buildings in Edgewood and from underground locations in Eagle Point between March and November of 2011, prosecutors said.

Bittner would file false work reports to "disguise the fact" that he and co-workers were collecting the wire, taking it to their APG vehicles and transferring it to their personal vehicles in the APG parking lot while on duty, prosecutors said.

At home, they would strip the wire of its plastic coating and sell it to metal recyclers, prosecutors said.

In June 2011, after Bittner and his partners in the scheme realized there was a large amount of copper wire underground in Eagle Point, they spent two days while on duty tying exposed portions of the wire to their APG vehicles and pulling it out of the ground, prosecutors said.

"Because the stolen wire weighed approximately five tons, Bittner and a coconspirator rented storage space in Edgewood to store the stolen wire, and bought a stripping machine to remove the insulation from the copper wire at a much faster pace than by hand," prosecutors said.

They then sold the wire to metal recyclers in Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania for more than $48,000, prosecutors said.

In another scheme, they stole another large amount of wire from two government buildings and from three generators near Eagle Point and sold it for more than $30,000, prosecutors said.

Under the agreement, Bittner faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy to steal government property and must forfeit more than $87,000 made through the scheme and pay more than $33,000 in restitution to the government, prosecutors said.

He is scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 30.

krector@baltsun.com

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