First Energy Worker Charged in $28K Theft

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AKRON, Ohio -- A four-month long internal investigation by First Energy Company has resulted in the arrest of a former employee, accused of stealing more than $28 thousand worth of copper from the company, and selling it for scrap.

Akron police say Jesse G. Hensel, 31, of Cleveland-Massillon Road in Clinton, Ohio, was observed on numerous occasions since the beginning of 2012 stealing copper cables and copper bus bars from company yards and job sites. The total theft amount, according to police, was $28,111.47.

The investigation was conducted by First Energy and turned over to police. Lt. Rick Edwards says the city prosecutor filed a felony theft charge.

At City Scrap and Salvage in Akron, records show Hensel had 19 transactions there since June of 2011 during which they paid him a total of more than $4 thousand.

The most recent of those transactions was in January, during the four-month long investigation, in which Hensel was paid $251.94 for 102 pounds of copper.

Employees at City Scrap and Salvage say they keep detailed records of such transactions and pay only by check. They also ask suspicious customers about where they got the metals they are selling, and unless they have a good enough explanation, the company will not buy what they are selling.

"Electric companies bring us stuff like that, not no customer off the street," said Don Reith, referring to the kind of copper that would have come from a First Energy yard.

Hensel evidently had a good enough explanation at the time that he was able to sell the copper to them, but City Scrap Vice President Randy Katz says he was required to provide them a great deal of information about himself, including a copy of his driver's license

"I'm going to see their driver's license; we're going to get their signature; I'm going to write you a check; we are going to do all this. They are not going to bring us something that they don't want the traceability," said Katz.

First Energy is not alone in having to monitor its own employees. Akron police confirm that a barrel of copper electrical clips that was sold to City Scrap and Salvage is a part of a year-long investigation at Mueller Electric company in which an employee has been cooperating with detectives.

Cliff Prosek, the General Manager of Mueller Electric Company, filed a report with police stating that his company was investigating the theft of 3,000 spools of braided copper wire. Prosek says his company has had to install cameras and other security equipment as a result, to police itself from within.

Even City Scrap and Salvage, which buys the scrap metals, has had its own internal thievery, according to Katz.

"One of our employees was throwing copper over the fence, and coming in the evening and stealing it at night. The police caught him driving by and said, 'What are you doing?' He says, 'Oh, I work here,' " Katz told Fox 8.

First Energy was not commenting on its investigation of Hensel, calling it a personnel matter. Hensel, however, no longer works for First Energy.

He surrendered to police on Wednesday.

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