CLARIFICATION: Information in this article, originally published August 6, 2014, was clarified August 7, 2014. A previous version of this story did not include the information that Seattle City Light recovered the copper wire and recycled it.
ORIGINAL POST: Two men accused of impersonating members of the Cherokee Nation and conning the top official at City Light into letting them take $120,000 worth of copper wire and scrap metal have been arrested in separate states.
King County prosecutors charged Michael George and Jim Costa with first-degree theft and first-degree trafficking in stolen property last December, but the two men skipped subsequent court appearances and disappeared. George was admitted to jail in Hartford, Conn., on Monday, according to the facility’s records. Costa was brought to the Collin County Texas jail on the same day, records show.
George and Costa met City Light CEO Jorge Carrasco in April 2013 at the Seattle Municipal Tower Starbucks, where Carrasco waited for his coffee, according to several reports examined by The Seattle Times. The two men introduced themselves as Michael Little Bear and Joe Wolf, and told Carrasco they worked for a nonprofit teaching kids to make jewelry out of scrap metal.
That afternoon, Carrasco told Bernie Ziemianek, a director of operations for City Light, to help supervise a donation of scrap material from the Seattle City Light South Service Center on the 3600 block of Fourth Avenue South. Employees then helped the men load about 20 tons of metal into multiple trucks.
Seattle police later found out that the copper wire had been shipped to American Recycling in Fort Worth, Texas, where the men were to be paid $100,000 in exchange.
The stolen copper was recovered by Seattle City Light in Texas and sold to recyclers there, according to Scott Thomsen, spokesman for Seattle City Light.
George and Costa have run a similar metal-theft scams in Washington and at least three other states in the past, according to police.