LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - On Tuesday, Judge Paul White of the 159th District Court sentenced a 41-year old man to a 300-day state jail prison term for stealing at least nine iron manhole covers in Diboll.
Jack Johnson, 41, of Diboll, is still being held in the Angelina County Jail while he is awaiting transport to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice state jail facility.
In April 2012, Diboll police officers caught Johnson in the act of using a small sledge hammer to break apart an iron pipe that belonged to Union Pacific Railroad. Then, several Crime Stoppers tips dating back to December 2011 pointed to Johnson as the suspect in the theft of the manhole covers. The stolen manhole covers and rings weighed about 200 pounds each.
The arrest affidavit stated that Detective Norman Williams of the Diboll Police Department spoke with several possible witnesses about the manhole cover thefts. One witness told authorities that Johnson had been seen in possession of the manhole covers and that the suspect had sold them at a Lufkin scrap yard.
Johnson was initially charged with felony criminal mischief. However, a state jail felony charge of theft of property between $1,500 and $20,000 was filed against him two days later.
The missing covers left a gaping hole and a 15-foot drop in some of Diboll's city streets.