Two officers of Executive Recycling Inc., a former Englewood, Colo.-based electronics recycling firm, have been convicted of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, environmental crimes related to the illegal disposal of electronic scrap, smuggling and obstruction following an 11-day trial.
According to a U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) news release, the two men, President Brandon Richter and Vice President of Operations Tor Olson, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver Sept. 15, 2011. The jury reached its verdict Dec. 21, 2012. The defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in April 2013.
The case involving Executive Recycling was spotlighted in a November 2008 segment on the CBS TV program “60 Minutes,” which looked at the practice of unsafe electronics dismantling in Guiyu, China, and alleged misrepresentation by some electronics recyclers who shipped material there.
“The improper disposal of electronic waste not only hurts our environment, it also leaves a legacy of environmental hazards for our children and our children’s children,” says U.S. Attorney John Walsh in the DOJ news release.
According to the DOJ, the defendants engaged in the practice of exporting electronic scrap, including cathode ray tubes (CRTs). The defendants regularly negotiated the sale of electronic scrap to brokers who represented foreign buyers or who sold the electronic scrap overseas, the DOJ says. The foreign buyers often paid the defendants directly. To transport the electronics, the defendants used shipping cargo containers that were loaded at the Executive Recycling's facility. The containers were then transported by rail to domestic ports for export overseas, the DOJ claims.
Executive Recycling appeared as the exporter of record in more than 300 exports from the United States between 2005 and 2008. About 160 of the exported cargo containers contained a total of more than 100,000 CRTs, the DOJ reports.
Contrary to their representations to customers to dispose of electronic scrap “properly, right here in the U.S.,” the defendants sold the electronic scrap they received to brokers for export overseas to the People’s Republic of China and other countries, according to the DOJ.
Executive Recycling as a corporation faces a $500,000 fine per count for seven wire fraud counts or twice the gross gain or loss. The corporation faces a conviction for one count of failure to file notification of intent to export hazardous waste, which carries a penalty of a $50,000 fine per day of violation or twice the gross gain or loss. The corporation also faces one count of exportation contrary to law, which carries a penalty $500,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss.
Richter and Olson each face seven counts of wire fraud, each of which carries a penalty of not more than 20 years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine. They face one count of exportation contrary to law, which carries a penalty of not more than 10 years imprisonment and up to a $250,000 fine, twice the gross gain or loss or both.
Defendant Richter faces one count of destruction, alteration, or falsification, of records in federal investigations and bankruptcy, which carries a penalty of not more than 20 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000. There is also an asset forfeiture allegation, which states that upon conviction the defendants shall forfeit to the United States any and all property or proceeds derived from their illegal activity.