Executive Recycling Inc. was fined $4.5 million and its CEO was sentenced to 30 months in prison after the government alleged the company told customers it was recycling electronics domestically while actually sending it overseas to developing countries.
U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martinez sentenced the company and CEO Brandon Richter July 23, one week after handing former vice president of operations Tor Olson a 14-month prison sentence.
Richter and Olson were convicted of various mail and wire fraud charges along with environmental crimes.
The company regularly exported e-waste, including cathode ray tubes outside of the United States, including to China, the government alleged. The company appeared as the exporter of record in more than 300 exports from the United States between 2005 and 2008, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. About 160 of those cargo containers contained a total of more than 100,000 CRTs, the government alleged.
The Englewood, Colo.-based company was doing all the exporting while telling customers it was handling all the items domestically. Eventually, with the help of the Basel Action Network, "60 Minutes" aired a segment on the company, exposing its practices.
In addition to Richter's 30-month prison sentence, he was ordered to pay a $7,500 fine and $70,144 in restitution. The judge also ordered a $142,241 asset forfeiture in the case.
Olson remains free on bond while his appeal is moving forward. Richter was given 15 days to report to jail, but immediately appealed the conviction and sentence. His attorney is now asking he remain free on bond while the appeal is being processed, according to court documents.
"The defendants in this case not only caused actual harm to the environment by shipping electronic waste overseas for dumping, they defrauded their customers by falsely claiming to be disposing of that waste in an environmentally safe way," said U.S. Attorney John Walsh in a statement.
The sentence and fine show that there are no shortcuts in following U.S. export laws, Kumar Kibble, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations said in a statement.
"This CEO also intentionally deceived the public for years by falsely advertising an environmentally friendly recycling business plan within the United States," Kibble said. "Instead, he regularly exported tons of obsolete and discarded electronic equipment containing toxic materials to third-world countries, and took actions to illegally hide these practices from government officials."