Modesto Man Ordered to Repay FAA $60,000 for Damage Caused to Modesto Airport During Copper Cable Thefts
On December 10, 2012, Kody Estepp was sentenced in U.S. District Court, Fresno, California, to serve one month (time served) and 36 months supervised release for conspiring to steal 2,800 feet of copper cable from the Medium Intensity Approach Lighting System (MIALS) at the Modesto Airport. Estepp was also ordered to pay $60,000 in restitution to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the damage caused to the airport.
OIG began its investigation based on a referral from FAA alleging vandalism to the Modesto Airport approach lighting system. The investigation determined that on several occasions in January 2012, Estepp, and his co-conspirator Robin Vanderheiden, broke into lighting towers at the Modesto Airport and stole copper wire from the enclosed systems. They then sold the stolen copper wire in return for cash or illegal narcotics. The theft of the copper cable caused the approach lighting to become inoperable, which posed a significant safety risk to incoming aircraft and neighboring residents, and without the MIALS, aircraft may need to be diverted.
OIG conducted this case jointly with the Modesto Police Department, with assistance provided by the FAA.