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Electronic Waste Recycling Executives Convicted of Fraud

Two top officials for Executive Recycling Inc. were convicted of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud related to illegal disposing of electronic waste.

A jury in U.S. District Court of Colorado found guilty of environmental crimes related to the illegal disposal, smuggling and obstruction Brandon Richter, 38, of Highlands Ranch, Colo., owner and CEO of the Englewood, Colo.-based company, and Tor Olson, 37, of Parker, Colo., former vice president of operations, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office news release.

The defendants misled business and government entities that Executive Recycling would dispose of their e-waste in compliance with all laws and regulations, and do so in the United States and not send the e-waste overseas. Executive Recycling did in fact export the e-waste to foreign countries, including China, between 2005 and 2008, according to the attorney’s office.

Richter and Olson each face seven counts of wire fraud, each count of which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. They also face one count exportation contrary to law, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine or twice the gross gain or loss, or both. Richter also faces one count of destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations and bankruptcy, which carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

In addition, the company 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 and one count of exportation contrary to law.

The case came to light after the Seattle-based Basel Action Network (BAN), an environmental watchdog organization, documented the malfeasance and reported it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Government Accountability Office and CBS News, which did a story on the matter for “60 Minutes.”

“This conviction is very welcome, but sadly as we speak, there are many hundreds of other fake recyclers out there that are loading up Asian-bound containers full of our old toxic TVs and computers,” said BAN Executive Director Jim Puckett in a news release. “We hope this conviction sends a very strong message to business and the public that they should only use the most responsible recyclers.”

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the EPA Criminal Investigation Division and the Colorado Attorney General’s Office, Special Prosecutions Unit.

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