Student working in ANF faces charges

Vandalism at an oil well site in Wetmore Township, McKean County, has resulted in the release of about one barrel of oil and a confession from an Arizona man.

According to Kane-based state police, troopers were called to a gas explosion and oil leak at 2 p.m. Wednesday off Forest Road 261.

Police said three wells had been damaged, with pressure gauges broken off, and oil released.

Police said their investigation led them to arrest Jeffrey Branham, 20, of Prescott, Ariz., and that Branham subsequently gave a written confession.

According to Department of Environmental Community Relations Coordinator Gary Clark, about one barrel of oil was released onto the ground and nearby trees.

Clark said a DEP inspector was on the scene within 15 minutes of the department receiving the call.

“It’s not going to entail any kind of cleanup for us,” he said.

Police said the cost of the damages has not been determined.

The victim is listed as Howard Drilling.

Branham was charged with criminal mischief and risking a catastrophe. He was arraigned in McKean County court and taken to McKean County jail after failing to post $50,000 bail.

On the Student Conservation Association’s website, there is a Jeffrey Branham, of Prescott, Ariz., who is listed as a member of an SCA Trails Intern Team 2 working on the North Country Trail in the Allegheny National Forest.

He is listed on the site as a student at Prescott College.