This is an archived article that was published on in 2017, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A Utah man has been accused of shooting a substation transformer in September and knocking out power in most of Kane and Garfield counties for about eight hours.

A federal grand jury returned an indictment Wednesday charging Stephen Plato McRae, a 57-year-old Escalante resident, with one count of destruction of an energy facility.

The indictment alleges McRae damaged the Garkane Energy Cooperative's Buckskin substation in Kane County on Sept. 25 and caused more than $100,000 in damage. If convicted of the charge, he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

McRae initially was indicted in November with possession of a firearm by a restricted person and possession of marijuana. Wednesday's indictment adds the destruction count to the case and supersedes last year's indictment.

The firearm and drug charge carry maximum prison sentences of 10 years and two years, respectively, and all three counts have potential fines of $250,000.

McRae was arrested after the first indictment was issued in November and has been in custody since then.

According to an FBI affidavit, a confidential witness told the agency and the Kane County Sheriff's Office last fall that McRae had been keeping a blue container containing a rifle in the back of his 1990 Isuzu pickup truck. McRae allegedly moved the container in early October to the basement of a motel.

The witness also told the law-enforcement officers that McRae said he "shot stuff up" in Nevada and that he purchased ammunition at small retailers to avoid scrutiny.

Investigators executed a federal search warrant on Oct. 28 and found a loaded Springfield Armory 30-40 rifle with at least two rounds in the blue container and another 16 rounds of unused ammunition, the affidavit says.

McRae is

McRae's criminal history includes convictions in the 1980s in Texas of one count of possession of a controlled substance and three counts of burglary, all felonies, the affidavit says.

Twitter: PamelaMansonSLC