Arkansas Man Pleads Guilty to Damaging Marcellus Shale Pipeline
The United States Attorney's Office for the Middle District of Pennsylvania announced today that Henry Virgil Benton, age 44, of Bradford, Arkansas, pleaded guilty on April 4, before United States District Court Judge John E. Jones, III, to a felony Information charging him with knowingly engaging in an excavation activity resulting in damage to a natural gas pipeline exceeding $50,000.
According to United States Attorney Peter J. Smith, in June 2011, after being fired from the company which constructed the pipeline, Benton used a track hoe to excavate and then damaged, dent and open holes in the natural gas pipeline located in Cogan House Township, Lycoming County. The pipeline is owned by Chief Oil and Gas, LLC, a Dallas, Texas company. The construction contractor was Holloman Corporation, Houston, Texas. Benton was indicted on June 29, 2011.
As part of the plea agreement, it was stipulated that Benton will serve a prison sentence of more than 12 but not more than 18 months followed by three years of supervised release and payment of restitution in an amount to be determined by the court of more than $50,000 but less than $208,000. A sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania State Police. Prosecution of this matter is being handled by Assistant United States Attorney George J. Rocktashel.
Our commitment to combating public corruption in the Middle District of Pennsylvania and to keeping the public informed about pending cases.