by Alex Francis
At the conclusion of an 11-day trial, two executives at Executive Recycling, a Colorado-based electronics recycling firm, were found guilty of multiple counts of mail and wire fraud, environmental crimes, smuggling, and obstruction.
The company’s illegal activity was exposed in a 2008 60 Minutes special feature that tracked a shipping container from Executive Recycling’s Englewood, Colorado facility all the way to Hong Kong. The container was full of monitors with cathode ray tubes (CRTs), each containing several pounds of lead. This hazardous material is dangerous if not disposed of properly, and it is illegal to export it without special permission.
While Executive Recycling claimed to be in compliance with local, state, and federal regulations, Brandon Richter, owner and CEO, and Tor Olson, vice president of operations, were found to have shipped over 100,000 CRTs overseas and made $1.8 million from the illegal activity. U.S. Attorney John Walsh commented that “The improper disposal of electronic waste not only hurts our environment, it also leaves a legacy of environmental hazards for our children and our children’s children.”
Richter, Olson, and Executive Recycling each face seven counts of wire fraud and one count of exportation contrary to law, while Executive Recycling faces an additional conviction for failure to file notification of intent to export hazardous waste. Richter was also charged with one count of destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in federal investigations and bankruptcy. Sentencing is scheduled for April.
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