Plug pulled on power scam

Georgetown man sent to jail af­ter steal­ing power from Mar­itime Elec­tric for more than three years

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - FRONT PAGE - THE GUARDIAN

A va­cant house was just too ir­re­sistible for Michael Lavie - es­pe­cially one with the power still on.

Four years ago, Lavie, 55, of Georgetown con­jured up a way to help him­self to the power sup­ply of a neigh­bour­ing prop­erty.

And ever since, he has cooled his beer and baked his pizza - free of charge.

Lavie was in pro­vin­cial court Thurs­day af­ter plead­ing guilty to three counts in­volv­ing the theft of elec­tri­cal equip­ment and the steal­ing of thou­sands of dol­lars’ worth of power from Mar­itime Elec­tric.

It was a long in­ves­ti­ga­tion that led to his sen­tenc­ing day and court of­fi­cials ad­mit­ted it was an un­usual and com­pli­cated case.

“He some­how was able to at­tach a dif­fer­ent me­ter to his house that gave a dif­fer­ent read­ing,’’ sug­gested crown pros­e­cu­tor Nathan Beck.

Lavie ac­quired the elec­tri­cal me­ter from an older home on Ge­orge Street in Georgetown af­ter the owner had left. The house was fi­nally torn down in 2012.

Lavie then used the stolen power me­ter to run his own home, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, from Jan. 1 2012 to Jan. 26, 2015.

Judge Nancy Orr was told the ac­cused had it down pat when the me­ter reader came call­ing. He would “swap” out the stolen me­ter with a dummy me­ter and when the Mar­itime Elec­tric em­ployee was gone the free­bie me­ter went back to work.

Kim Grif­fin of Mar­itime Elec­tric said the new tech­nol­ogy used to­day would have flagged the thefts and sug­gested an older me­ter was likely at­tached to the for­mer home and was nabbed be­fore the struc­ture was torn down.

“It was a ter­ri­bly un­safe sit­u­a­tion that could have led to fire or elec­tro­cu­tion,’’ said the public re­la­tions of­fi­cer from her Char­lot­te­town of­fice.

“And it would have re­quired some vast elec­tri­cal knowl­edge to pull it off.”

But some­how Lavie did, and he qui­etly got a charge out of en­joy­ing all the ben­e­fits with­out hav­ing to pay.

The court was told the lights started to flicker on the ruse when a me­ter reader made a sur­prise visit on Christ­mas Eve, dis­cov­ered the scam, and in­formed po­lice.

“This is ex­treme level of theft,’’ said Judge Orr. “Cus­tomers of Mar­itime Elec­tric should not ex­pect to ac­quire their elec­tric­ity in such a man­ner.”

Lavie was sen­tenced to a to­tal of 90 days in jail and an agree­ment has been reached in which he will be re­quired to re­pay Mar­itime Elec­tric $5,000 for the stolen power.

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