Police charge elderly Florida man for vandalizing Florida Progress utility poles

Hundreds of poles vandalized

CLEARWATER, Fla. - For years, deputies thought a street gang may be responsible for tagging hundreds of Florida Progress utility poles all over Clearwater and Dunedin. They have now charged a 71-year-old man with the crime.

Charles Wesley was arrested for felony criminal mischief after witnesses told deputies they saw Wesley spray painting power poles with the letters 'SLA' Sunday morning. Deputies say Wesley admitted to spray painting hundreds of poles all over Pinellas County over the past six years.

Investigators initially believed SLA stood for Symbionese Liberation Army, a radical 1970s group that gained fame by kidnapping newspaper heiress Patricia Hearst. Hearst eventually joined the group in robbing a San Francisco bank in 1974.

However, neighbors told deputies that SLA actually stood for Sane People Liberated Army. It's the group Wesley claims will take over the United States after the country falls into financial ruin.

Wesley appeared before a Pinellas County judge Monday and was ordered held on $5,000 bond. He told the judge he could not afford an attorney.

A spokesperson for Florida Progress said they are aware of the problem and that it is very unusual for their power poles to be sprayed with graffiti.

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