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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Missouri

Friday, October 6, 2017

Franklin County Couple Indicted on Removing Aluminum from Railroad Cars

St. Louis, MO – Jacob Brewer and Michelle Phipps were arrested today on an Indictment charging them with removing aluminum braces from railroad cars owned by Ameren UE. 


According to the Indictment, between February 1 and February 22, 2017, Brewer and Phipps disabled railroad on-track equipment, by removing aluminum stabilizing braces from railroad freight cars.  The braces are designed to keep the freight cars from derailing when fully loaded and moving.  The railroad freight cars are owned by Ameren UE and were used to transport coal from the State of Wyoming to the State of Missouri.


Brewer, 29, Beaufort, MO, and Michelle Phipps, 27, Washington, MO, were indicted by a federal grand jury on July 19 on one felony count of violence against railroad carriers.  They appeared in federal court this morning.


If convicted, Brewer and Phipps face up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine of $250,000 or both.  Restitution to the victim is also mandatory. In determining the actual sentences, a Judge is required to consider the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, which provide recommended sentencing ranges.


 This case was investigated by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department.  Assistant United States Attorney Gil Sison is handling the case for the U.S. Attorney's Office.


As is always the case, charges set forth in an indictment are merely accusations and do not constitute proof of guilt.  Every defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until proven guilty.                       


Updated October 6, 2017