SAN AUGUSTINE COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - After serving a brief stint in the Orange County Jail on a motion to revoke probation charge, San Augustine County Sheriff's Office deputies transferred the last suspect in a copper theft back to the county Wednesday to await his trial.
Collis Simmons, 45, of San Augustine, was arrested by the Orange County Sheriff's Department on Nov. 19, 2012. He is currently being held in the San Augustine Jail on four state-jail felony charges of theft of copper and two third-degree felony charges of engaging in organized criminal activity. No bond has been set at this time.
According to an Orange County Jail official, Simmons also has outstanding arrest warrants from Sabine County - two theft of copper charges and one evading arrest charge.
Simmons and the three East Texas women that are also suspects in the case allegedly stole a large amount of copper from a Deep East Texas Electric Cooperative substation and tried to sell it at a local scrap metal recycling business. SACSO deputies arrested the other three suspected members of the copper theft ring in September. Simmons was a fugitive from justice until Orange County Sheriff's deputies picked him on the motion to revoke probation charge on Nov. 16.
San Augustine County Sheriff's deputies investigated a possible theft of copper at a Deep East Texas Electric Co-op's Holly substation located on FM 3451. A Deep East Texas Electric Co-op employee told Fountain that some of the stolen copper belonged to the Tex-La Electric Cooperative of Nacogdoches even though Deep East Texas operates the facility.
They were contacted by a Sabine County Sheriff's deputy that told them he had received a call from an employee from a scrap metal recycling business in San Augustine stating that someone had brought in copper he believed had been taken from electric substations in that county.
However, West told Fountain he thought the copper might have actually been stolen from the Deep East Texas substation in San Augustine. The two pieces of bus bar copper West had as evidence matched up to a remaining piece on a transformer at the Holly substation.
While the deputies were investigating the substation, they found that someone had broken into the substation since August 31, when the initial incident was reported. The lock had been removed from the west gate, and copper wire was missing from the site.
According to the incident report, a woman named Tricia Jackson allegedly brought the stolen copper to the San Augustine scrap metal business on Aug. 27. After she refused to provide proof of identity, she made a phone call. Shortly afterward, another woman, Tasha McCarty, came into the business, gave her identifying information, and signed for the copper.
SACSO deputies identified McCarty in surveillance camera footage obtained from the scrap yard. The video also showed Jackson arriving at the scrap yard in a white Dodge ram pickup that also contained "an unknown white male and a white female." On Sept. 4, Chief Deputy Gary Cunningham identified the male from the video as Collis Ray Simmons, who evaded arrest on Aug. 31. San Augustine officials issued an arrest warrant for his alleged part in the copper thefts on Sept. 6.
McCarty and Patricia Ebarb Jackson, both of San Augustine, were arrested and charged with two counts of theft of copper and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity. Paula Jackson, of Hemphill, was charged with theft of copper. None of the three women are still being held in the San Augustine Jail.