YORK, Pa. — A Virginia man and woman who got lost in Pennsylvania and entered the property of a nuclear plant by cutting a chain at a gate have pleaded guilty to some charges in exchange for no additional time in jail.
Timothy Stewart, 29, and Jenilee Simpson, 33, both of Chesapeake, Virginia, entered the pleas Tuesday in York County Court.
Authorities said they were driving from Baltimore to New York on May 27 and apparently cut the chain at Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station while trying to get back on the right road.
Stewart told the court that he was lost and had not gotten a lot of sleep, and his car contained bolt cutters because he was “going to use them to work at a carnival,” the York Daily Record reported.
“It was just a stupid decision to play around with bolt cutters,” he said, later telling the judge that alcohol and drugs were not involved.
Common Pleas Judge Michael Bortner asked a question to clarify that Stewart was not there to steal uranium or something else, and Stewart replied, “No, sir.”
Simpson, meanwhile, said she was sound asleep, and that her boyfriend had gotten lost. “I didn’t even know that was a power plant,” she said.
A spokeswoman for Exelon, which owns Peach Bottom, said earlier the two never posed a threat and were being monitored by security all the time they were on plant property.
Stewart pleaded guilty to defiant trespass, driving with a suspended or revoked license and possession of instruments of a crime. He was sentenced to 136 days to 23 months and fined $250. Simpson pleaded guilty to possession of drug paraphernalia and defiant trespass and was sentenced to 131 days to 23 months and fined $50.
Prosecutors dropped felony charges of criminal trespass against the couple, who have been jailed since their arrests.
Assistant Public Defender Eric White, who represented Stewart, declined comment outside the courtroom.
Simpson’s attorney, George Margetas, told the York Daily Record that his client has told the same story from the beginning and cooperated.
“She had no idea,” Margetas said. “They legitimately got lost.”
This story has been corrected to say the sentence was 130-plus days to 23 months rather than 11 to 23 months. APNewsNow. Will be updated.