Man held in Rowan facing felony charges for tampering with electrical meters, promising to save customers money

Published 12:36 am Wednesday, August 24, 2022

A Harmony man is facing numerous felony counts for tampering with electrical meters and claiming his work could help customers save money on their electrical bills from Duke Energy.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigative Division began an investigation in early July along with Duke Energy Threat Intelligence and Investigations. Duke Energy noticed that numerous customers throughout the state were having decreased utility bills over an extended period of time. Duke Energy initially began their own investigation and found that numerous electrical meters had been tampered with. While investigating the tampered electrical meters further, Duke Energy investigators were able to identify a possible suspect in this investigation.

Duke Energy and Rowan County Sheriff’s Office criminal investigators met with Duke Energy customers and confirmed that the same suspect had illegally tampered with each of the customer’s electrical meters.

Investigators determined that the suspect, Mark Absher, 53, of Harmony, had told the Duke Energy customers that he worked for Duke Energy, or subcontracted for Duke Energy. Absher said he could assist customers with their electrical bill by “calibrating” their electrical meter. The customers agreed and Absher charged $250 to $400 for this calibration. Absher wore Duke Energy clothing at most of the locations where he tampered with the meters. He is not an employee or subcontractor with Duke Energy, and it does not appear he was ever employed by Duke Energy.

A search warrant for the home of Absher was served on Aug. 23, by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, Iredell County Sheriff’s Office and Duke Energy investigators at 548 E. Memorial Highway in Harmony. During that search, numerous items belonging to Duke Energy were located and seized. The items seized were related to the illegal tampering of the meters.

Absher was charged with:

  • 25 felony counts of damage to Duke Energy equipment
  • 25 felony counts of interfering with electric meters
  • 17 felony counts of obtaining property by false pretense
  • 1 count of conspiracy to commit a felony

Numerous customers throughout Rowan County and the state still must be contacted for further investigation. The Iredell County Sheriff’s Office is also charging Absher with narcotic violations, and similar charges of tampering with electrical meters after the search. Absher was placed in the Rowan County Detention Center under a $400,000 secured bond.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office requests for any Duke Energy customer that has contracted with Absher or anyone else for the “calibration” of their electrical meter, to contact Duke Energy or Detective Simmons or Detective Bare at 704-216-8700. The calibration that Absher is accused of performing also makes the electrical meter unsafe to the homes.