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Wire theft ringleader to enter guilty plea


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POSTED: Friday, April 10, 2009

The alleged leader of a copper theft ring, which the state says stole more than $500,000 worth of wire along the H-1 and H-2 freeways between 2005 and last year, is expected to plead guilty in state court next week.

An Oahu grand jury charged James B. Taylor, known among his friends as Freeway Jimmy, and nine others with criminal conspiracy, first-degree theft, racketeering, money laundering and other charges last year.

They were scheduled to stand trial next week.

However, four defendants, including Taylor's wife, Regina L. Foster, have already pleaded guilty. Four others, including Taylor and Joseph R. Tano, are scheduled to plead guilty Thursday.

The state said Taylor, Tano and Foster were the key people in the operation. The two men removed copper wire from pull boxes and light poles along the freeways and Foster delivered the stolen copper to scrap metal dealers, according to the state.

One defendant was scheduled to plead guilty Tuesday but didn't show. The judge issued a $5,000 bench warrant for her arrest.

The 10th defendant is scheduled to go to trial.

The state said the ring stole 155,144 feet of wire, weighing 72,265 pounds and worth $563,000, over a three-year period. The defendants allegedly sold the copper for $144,800 in 478 transactions.