Skip to content
2 Plead Guilty in Washington State Substation Attacks


Two men have pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with attacks on several electrical substations that left thousands of customers around Tacoma, Wash., without power on Christmas Day last year, a criminal pact that officials say authorities, was part of a burglary plan to rob ATMs and local businesses.

Jeremy Crahan, 40, and Matthew Greenwood, 32, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to damage energy facilities and could each face up to 20 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $250,000, according to the plea agreement filed with the U.S. District Court. in Tacoma. However, prosecutors recommend that the defendants receive a maximum sentence of 21 months, according to the plea agreement.

Mr. Greenwood, who has been undergoing intensive drug treatment since his arrest, reached a plea deal in April and Mr. Crahan pleaded guilty on Tuesday.

As part of the deal, the Justice Department dropped the charge of possession of an unregistered firearm against Mr Greenwood. Mr Greenwood was in possession of a short-barreled shotgun, fitted with what appeared to be a homemade silencer, and a short-barreled shotgun when he was arrested late last year. prosecutors said.

The attacks come amid a string of similar attacks across the country that have knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers. In three months, at least nine substations have been attacked, including in North Carolina and Oregon, underscoring growing concern that electrical infrastructure could become a target for extremist groups. In response, federal regulators ordered a review of the nation’s power grid safety standards.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, Mr. Crahan and Mr. Greenwood “drafted a plan” to shut off power to four substations in Pierce County, which includes the city of Tacoma, using various methods, including circuit manipulation. circuit breakers and tampering with switches.

The men used bolt cutters to break through fences and padlocks at the Hemlock substation in Puyallup, the Elk Plain substation in Spanaway, and the Graham and Kapowsin substations in Graham, all south of Tacoma . At the Kapowsin substation, their tampering with a switch caused sparks and flames, according to the Department of Justice. As a result, at least 15,500 customers lost power.

The men took on separate roles, the Justice Department said in its statement: Mr. Greenwood tampered with switches while Mr. Crahan served primarily as a lookout.

After the power outage, Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Crahan went to a restaurant, broke a lock and stole an unspecified amount from a cash register, according to court documents. Over the next few days, the men looked for other ways to cause power outages by felling trees near main power lines, according to court documents.

Mr. Greenwood and Mr. Crahan were identified as possible suspects through phone records, security footage and a truck believed to be linked to the attacks, federal prosecutors said at the time of their arrest. Law enforcement executed a search warrant on December 31 and found Mr Greenwood inside a trailer, wearing clothes that partly matched those he had seen wearing in surveillance footage . Mr. Crahan was arrested shortly afterwards at a nearby house.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office estimated that damage to at least two of the substations operated by Tacoma Power was at least $3 million and could take up to 36 months to repair.

The lawyer for Mr. Greenwood, whose sentencing is scheduled for November 17, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sentencing of Mr. Crahan is scheduled for December 8.

Lance Hester, Mr Crahan’s lawyer, said that despite “significant concerns from the authorities” that an extremist ideology could be behind such an attack, there was no evidence that any either of the two men had engaged in this type of behavior or even had knowledge of it. .