When most people hear about white collar crimes, they may think of mortgage fraud, embezzlement and money laundering schemes. However, more people in California may become familiar with recycling fraud due to a recent criminal case. A California man pleaded no contest to recycling fraud and was sentenced to serve 178 days in prison. He was also required to pay $146,000 in restitution and serve five years of probation for his role in the recycling scheme.
What did this man do that warranted such a harsh penalty for recycling bottles and cans? The man was involved in a scheme to defraud CalRecycle, the recycling and waste management department for the state. According to CalRecycle, the man was working with three other people from another state to collect bottles and cans from Washington, which would then be reimbursed in California. The man faced felony charges after the department became aware of the scheme that defrauded CalRecycle of $329,887.
The man faced felony charges because the recycling program only allows individuals to be reimbursed for cans and other recycled containers that are purchased in California. Under the program, individuals can receive 5 cents or 10 cents per container, depending on the size.
Because the man was using recycled containers from out of state, he was not eligible to receive any reimbursement. Since he received a significant amount of money for reimbursing ineligible containers, he was charged with felony recycling fraud that will result in prison time, probation and being required to pay restitution.
Even though recycling fraud charges may seem like a minor offense, the state department takes these cases very seriously and is cracking down on recycling fraud. Like this case shows, individuals can face serious consequences if they are convicted of fraud so it is best to consult an attorney if you are arrested or charged with fraud.
Source: CBS San Francisco, "Recycling Fraud Leads To Jail Time For Oakland Man, 3 Washington Residents," April 8, 2014