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Arizona student jailed in Penn. for oil well vandalism

SMETHPORT, Pa. -- A student intern from Arizona has been jailed on charges that he vandalized three gas and oil wells in Pennsylvania's Allegheny National Forest.

Online court records don't list an attorney for 20-year-old Jeffrey Branham, of Prescott, Ariz. He had been working to clear a trail with others from the Student Conservation Association when other members of that group heard a loud boom Wednesday and saw Branham and another worker run toward them covered in oil.

State police investigated and said Branham acknowledged damaging three wells, whose pressure gauges were broken off.

A spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said roughly one barrel of oil spewed into the ground and nearby trees.

Branham faced a preliminary hearing Thursday on charges of criminal mischief and risking a catastrophe.

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