Three suspects arrested on suspicion of looting items from the tornado disaster areas near Shawnee have been formally charged with four felony counts.
Charges are filed in Pottawatomie County District Court for incidents that allegedly occurred in the area of damage around Old Highway 270, where the trio, all from out of town, was traveling together at the time of their arrest.
All three face felony charges of grand larceny, knowingly concealing stolen property, conspiracy and possession of stolen copper.
Amy Elizabeth Cook, 50, Ponca City, along with Jeremiah Ray Cook, 24, of Oceanside, Calif., and Kritzia Tatgiana Mejialara, Vista, Calif., are now formally charged.
They are accused, on or about May 22, of taking metal that didn’t belong to them. They’re also accused of concealing that metal along with conspiring to steal it. They are further accused of possessing copper wiring stolen from the 36700 block of W. Old Highway 270, court records shows.
Pottawatomie County Undersheriff Travis Palmer said an electrical line worker trying to restore power in the tornado area noticed suspicious activity by the group and called sheriff’s deputies. Palmer said a trooper made a traffic stop and the three arrests were made.
Palmer said among the items in the possession of the suspects were scrap metal and an air conditioner from a house affected by the tornadoes.
Because there are many workers, volunteers and others moving debris and helping with tornado relief efforts, Palmer said looting enforcement can be difficult in some cases, but anyone who suspects looting should report it.
If these three are convicted of the felony charges they face, they could face prison punishment ranges in each count, with the most being up to 10 years in prison, along with fines or both.
Their next court dates haven’t yet been scheduled.
Watch for updates.