California charges five people with defrauding recycling program out of $80.3 million. This is the largest alleged fraud scheme in the program’s history, officials said Thursday.
The owner and four employees of Recycling Services Alliance Corporation are charged with swindling the state’s beverage container recycling program.
It was going over several years by accepting recyclables purchased in other states and faking the paperwork, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced.
The state Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery said it’s the largest ever alleged fraud involving the 5- or 10-cent deposits consumers pay on certain beverage containers.
State Department of Justice criminal investigation was underway, CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said in calling recycling fraud “a serious crime.” Defense attorney Alexander Asterlin, who represents Davalos-Mendez, said none of the defendants have entered appeal.
Tseng posted $500,000 bail and Perez posted $250,000 bail, while the other three were released without bail. They all are due back in court June 15.
The department announced that in March of that year a Kern County grand jury indicted five people on charges of trucking in more than 200 million cans and bottles from Arizona to collect about $14 million in refunds.
It’s unclear how or if the containers brought into California affected other states’ recycling programs. There is no difference between cans and bottles sold in California and in other states, making it difficult for authorities to stop smugglers from bringing in containers sold elsewhere to be recycled in California.