Supreme Court upholds phone scam conviction

Man stole electricity to skirt prison call limits

Published On: Jun 20 2013 01:28:40 PM CDT   Updated On: Jun 20 2013 01:29:43 PM CDT
MADISON, Wis. -

The Wisconsin Supreme Court said a former prison inmate was properly convicted of setting up a phone scam.

Prosecutors accused Matthew Steffes of stealing electricity from AT&T when he had people on the outside set up phone lines using fictitious names so he could get around prison limits on collect calls to a single line. No one paid for the service. When AT&T shut down one line Steffes would switch to another.

A jury convicted him of fraud in 2009.

Steffes argued electricity doesn't meet the definition of property. But Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman wrote Thursday state law clearly defines electricity as property and Steffes deprived AT&T of that property.

Steffes' attorney, Jeffrey Jensen, said his client has been released from prison but has probably exhausted his appellate avenues.