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Press Release

Elizabeth, PA Man Pleads Guilty to Sabotaging Railroad Signal Operations

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – William Curry Brown, 26, of Elizabeth, Pa., pleaded guilty in federal court today before United States District Judge Donetta W. Ambrose to two counts of terroristic attacks and violence against a railroad carrier and mass transportation on land, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§1992(a)(5) and (a)(10) and 2.   

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that on or about November 1, 2017, Brown knowingly and without lawful authority or permission did and did attempt to remove an appurtenance from, damage or otherwise impair the operation of a railroad signal system.  Specifically, at one railroad location near Braddock, William Brown detached four railroad signal antennas by unscrewing them.    Additionally, Brown used a pair of bolt cutters and cut the railroad signal cables which were housed in a signal bungalow, which caused a complete signal failure.  At another location near McKeesport, Brown used the same bolt cutters to sever multiple bond strand signal wires that were attached to tracks along the rail line.    The damage Brown caused to the rail lines resulted in significant financial loss.  Further, the railroad system that was damaged was engaged in mass transportation, and carries both passenger and freight cars.  The court was advised that the offense involved recklessly endangering the safety of this mass transportation facility. 

Judge Ambrose set sentencing for May 11th, 2020 at 11 a.m. The law provides for a maximum total sentence of 20 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of not more than three years.   Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed would be based upon the seriousness of the offense(s) and the prior criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Christopher M. Cook is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the CSX Transportation Police conducted the investigation leading to the indictment in this case.

Updated January 13, 2020

Violent Crime