CalRecycle announced that California agents have arrested six suspects and are searching for a seventh in connection with a large-scale scheme to defraud the state’s bottle and can deposit program.
The group is accused of illegally:
- cashing in empty beverage containers smuggled from Las Vegas casinos;
- filing fraudulent California Redemption Value (CRV) claims for nonexistent material; and
- selling previously redeemed bottles and cans back into the system for re-redemption.
“California does not tolerate attempts to defraud the Beverage Container Recycling Program of deposits that rightfully belong to California consumers,” CalRecycle Director Rachel Machi Wagoner says. “CalRecycle will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners within the California Department of Justice to protect money that belongs to Californians.”
The California Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement, with technical assistance from CalRecycle, uncovered evidence of a multi-state recycling fraud ring over the course of a roughly four-month investigation. During that time, the suspects allegedly brought truckloads of out-of-state empty beverage containers to storage facilities and recycling centers in Southern California to fraudulently redeem the CRV material. Since consumers outside California do not pay CRV deposits on beverage purchases, imported empty beverage containers are not eligible for CRV redemption.
As part of the investigation, Department of Justice agents conducted searches at several Southern California facilities and seized more than $300,000 in cash from California recycling processor West Coast Waste Industries S.A. Inc.
Laszlo Castro Lencse, Antonio Iezza Jr., Jaime Mosaquites Diaz, Eligio Ortega Dominguez, Geovany Ortega Narcisco and Gonzalo Cachu Lucatero were arrested and charged with conspiracy, grand theft and recycling fraud. One suspect, Ivan Dominguez Lopez, remains at large. Iezza Jr. faces an additional charge of presenting false claims for payment while Dominguez is additionally charged with receipt of stolen property.
CalRecycle revoked the certification of Iezza Jr. and his company, West Coast Waste Industries S.A. Inc.