A man from Upper Marlboro pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing more than $222,000 worth of railroad tracks, mounting hardware and accessories from CSX Corporation.
Randy Lawrence Penkert, 50, entered a plea to one count of theft over $100,000.
Last October, CSX railroad police discovered hundreds of feet of rail missing from a track in east Columbia. The tie plates, bolts and spikes were also missing. Trees and foliage around the area had been cut so that heavy equipment could access the tracks. A flatbed tractor trailer stacked with rails was parked nearby.
Penkert was at the scene and identified himself as an owner of Second Chance Recycling. He showed police a contract between his company and CSX that retained his services to remove 32.6 miles of track throughout Maryland.
Prosecutors say that an official from CSX has denied the authenticity of that contract. Replacing the track will cost more than $453,337.
Penkert faces up to 15 years in prison for his crime. He will be sentenced on August 25.