October 27, 2010
California nabs three in bottle bill bust
Bail has been set for three residents of Riverside County, California who have been charged by the state's Attorney General for running a scam to defraud the state's beverage recycling container program out of $7 million. The owner of Perris Valley Recycling is being held with bail set at $300,000. Two of his employees ensnared by the AG's investigation are also being held with bail of $30,000 each.
The AG's office alleges that Perris Valley Recycling took in about 4.4 million pounds of aluminum cans from Arizona, where the metal is only sold for its scrap value, and attempted to cash them in using the California Refund Value deposit, which pays $1.57 a pound for the cans.
"These people pretended to be recycling California aluminum cans when they were really importing tons of cans from Arizona, which are not eligible for California's recycling refunds," Attorney General Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown Jr. said in a prepared statement. "They brazenly defrauded the state's successful recycling program."
What tipped authorities off was the unusually high amount of cans Perris Valley Recycling collected, sometimes as high as 10,000 pounds per day. As a deterrent to fraud, recycling center must report purchases of more than 250 pounds of aluminum cans to the state's Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle). The arrests are a result of an investigation by special agents of the AG's office, working with the CalRecycle and the Riverside County Sheriff's Department. The owner and employees of the recycling facility face a total of 18 felony counts on charges including recycling, fraud, grand theft and conspiracy, and each faces seven years in prison if convicted of all the charges. All have entered a plea of not guilty.