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Lakeland man is accused of stealing 179,000 feet of copper wire

LAND O'LAKES — A Lakeland man spent Tuesday evening in jail after Pasco deputies accused him of stealing more than $74,000 worth of copper wire from his employer.

John Taft, 45, a former yard worker for F&H Contractors in Land O'Lakes, is accused of defrauding the company of more than 179,000 feet of wire over the course of a year.

An internal audit revealed the missing copper.

Taft told deputies he ordered the wire from Progress Energy and sent it to F&H work crews, they said. But when deputies asked if he sold the wire, Taft said he wouldn't answer any more questions without his lawyer, the report said.

Gregco Recycling Inc. in Lakeland told deputies Taft had sold them more than $36,000 worth of stripped wire, the report said.

The company's records indicated that Taft sold the wire to Gregco in more than 50 transactions between June 2006 and July 2007.

If he had brought in all the wire at once, he would have aroused suspicion at Gregco.

"On a quantity like that, we would have required paper work from a company explaining where it came from," said Regina Smith, an office manager at Gregco.

Taft and Progress Energy did not return calls from the Times.

F&H Contractors, Taft's former employer, had no comment on the incident.

Taft turned himself in Tuesday and was charged with committing a scheme to defraud. He was released from the jail that evening on a $50,000 bond.

Helen Anne Travis can be reached at htravis@sptimes.com or (352) 521-6518.

Lakeland man is accused of stealing 179,000 feet of copper wire 03/12/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 12, 2008 7:53pm]
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