Men plead guilty to stealing copper wires, selling metal for drug money

Two men were sentenced Tuesday for climbing utility poles, stealing copper wires, and selling the metal for drug money.

Justin Allen Corbett, 23, of Newport, and Toshiaki Hirae, 33, of Vanceboro, pleaded guilty to charges of charges of theft of utility wire, conspiracy, and injury to utility fixtures. The two men were sentenced in the Craven County Superior Court to 10-21 months in prison and 11-23 months in prison respectively.

Investigators said Corbett and Hirae climbed utility poles, then cut the neutral or ground wires down in order to steal copper wires. The two men then sold the metal at various scrap yards in Craven and Jones Counties. Both men admitted to using the money to buy illegal drugs, prosecutors said. The indictments were filed in October, 2012.

"Drug addicts will stop at nothing to get illegal drugs," said District Attorney Scott Thomas. "The defendants literally climbed utility poles, in active use, to steal copper in order to sell it to get money to purchase drugs. We sought, and the defendants received, the maximum active sentences for these crimes."

Neither Corbett nor Hirae had any training in handling electrical wires or utilities, investigators said.

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