Southern Utah man pleads guilty to shooting up substation, faces 8 years in prison

An undated photo of the Buckskin Electrical Substation in Kane County, which Stephen Plato McRae, 59, pleaded guilty to damaging on Friday, May 10, 2019 | Photo courtesy of Kane County Sheriff's Office, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — It’s been almost three years since a man shot at and damaged an electrical substation in Kane County. Now, he’s facing 96 months in federal prison and a hefty fine.

Booking photo of Stephen Plato McRae, 59, of Escalante | Photo courtesy of Kane County Sheriff’s Office, St. George News

Stephen Plato McRae, 59, of Escalante, was charged with destruction of an energy facility, possession of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of a controlled substance in February 2017 after he shot at the Buckskin Electrical Substation — owned by Garkane Energy Cooperative — on Sept. 25, 2016. The damage to the substation caused thousands of Kane and Garfield county residents to lose power for several hours.

Read more: Escalante resident indicted for shooting power substation

According to a press release from the Kane County Sheriff’s Office, McRae made a plea agreement, which will involve a stipulated sentence of 96 months in jail and a restitution payment of $380,522.33, the amount Garkane Energy had to spend to repair the substation. The plea agreement was announced Friday in the U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, where McRae pleaded guilty to the one charge of destruction.

As part of the plea agreement, McRae admitted to firing shots from a Springfield rifle into the cooling fins, rupturing the radiator piping. The damage from the rifle shots caused the energy facility substation to overheat and fail, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

McRae also admitted that this incident wasn’t the first time he’s damaged a substation. He also damaged the following substations:

  • Libson Valley Substation in San Juan County on April 1, 2015.
  • Quinn River Substation in Humboldt County, Nevada, on Aug. 31, 2016.
  • Baker Substation in White Pine County, Nevada, on Sept. 14, 2016.

“The United States and local prosecuting authorities have agreed not to seek charges for these offenses,” the Sheriff’s Office’ release states. “However, these incidents will be included as relevant conduct the court will take into consideration in determining the reasonableness of the stipulated 96-month sentence.”

Federal prosecutors also agreed to dismiss two other charges included in the indictment — possession of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of a controlled substance — as part of the plea agreement.

Sentencing in the case is scheduled for July.

Email: mheckenliable@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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