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Lost couple accused of cutting chain, entering power plant grounds, plead guilty

The lost Virginia couple who were arrested after police say they cut a chain on a gate and drove around the property of the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Plant pleaded guilty to some of the charges filed against them.

Timothy L. Stewart, 29, pleaded guilty Tuesday in York County Court to charges of defiant trespass, driving while operating privileges are suspended and possessing an instrument of crime and was sentenced by Judge Michael E. Bortner to 136 days to 23 months in prison.

And Jenilee Simpson, 33, pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and defiant trespass and was sentenced to 131 days to 23 months in prison.

For both, the most serious charge of criminal trespass – the only felony filed against them – was dropped.

According to court records, the incident occurred like this:

Stewart and Simpson, from Chesapeake, Virginia, were heading north to look for work. They stopped in Baltimore first, and after failing to find employment there, they crossed into Pennsylvania on their way to New York.

Once they got into York County, though, they got lost, and went down an access road that led to Peach Bottom. That’s when Stewart cut a chain that kept a gate closed, and they drove onto a secure area of the facility.

They said they did not to see the “no trespassing” signs and barbed wire fences all around the facility.

At Stewart’s preliminary hearing in July, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Joshua Koach said there is video surveillance footage of them driving in a secure area of the facility.

Public defender Catherine Himes, who represented Stewart at his hearing, pointed out the two never entered the building.

What led to Stewart cutting the chain, George Margetas, who represented Simpson, previously he did not know, but he said his client was asleep at the time.

Shortly after the incident, officials for Exelon, the company that owns Peach Bottom, said it appears Stewart and Simpson inadvertently made their way onto the property, thinking they could get back to where they were going by cutting through the fenced-in area.

They did not make it to any areas where radioactive materials are transferred or stored and did not make it past security officers who constantly monitor all sides of the plant.

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