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Trial date set for former Luther councilman accused of stealing copper from tornado sirens

James Richard Smith

James Richard Smith

LUTHER, Okla. – A former city councilman in Luther, who is accused of using inmates to steal copper wire, is set to go before a judge next year.

Last year,  James Richard Smith was charged with six counts of copper theft from a tornado siren and one count of engaging in a pattern of criminal offenses.

Sheriff John Whetsel says Smith told three DOC inmates to strip the copper and paid them each $40.

Investigators say Smith sold the copper to a recycling plant for just under $160, meaning he only took home a little more than $30 after paying the inmates.

The damage estimate on the taxpayer’s dime is about $31,000.

Smith is also facing charges for attempting to prevent a witness from giving testimony, according to court records.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Smith allegedly threatened two Luther employees, who are key witnesses in the copper theft case.

The report claims Smith ran one of the state’s witnesses off the road with his vehicle. It also alleges that Smith threatened to kill another witness.

Smith’s trial is set to begin on Jan. 23, 2017 at 9 a.m.