Two men have been arrested and charged with vandalizing electrical substations in Washington state, attacks that left thousands without power over the holidays, U.S. prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Matthew Greenwood, 32, and Jeremy Crahan, 40, both of Puyallup, were arrested Saturday night and set to appear in U.S. District Court in Tacoma on Tuesday.
A newly unsealed complaint charges both with conspiracy to damage energy facilities, and it charges Greenwood with possession of a short-barreled rifle and a short-barreled shotgun. Cellphone records and other evidence tied them to the attacks on the four substations in Pierce County, it said.
According to the complaint, Greenwood told investigators after his arrest that the two knocked out power so they could burglarize a business and steal from the cash register. The business was not identified in the complaint.
It was not immediately clear if the men had attorneys who might speak on their behalf.
The attacks on Dec. 25 left more than 10,000 customers without power. Officials have warned that the U.S. power grid needs better security to prevent domestic terrorism and after a large outage in North Carolina last month took days to repair.
The four substations targeted were the Graham and Elk Plain substations operated by Tacoma Power and the Kapowsin and Hemlock substations operated by Puget Sound Energy. The U.S. Attorney's Office said the damage to the Tacoma Power substations alone was estimated to be at least $3 million.
Conspiracy to attack energy facilities is punishable by up to 20 years in prison. Possession of an unregistered firearm is punishable by up to 10 years.