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A family pocketed $7.6 million by taking cans and bottles from Arizona and recycling them in California. That’s fraud, prosecutors say.

A recycling technician loads an 800-pound block of compressed aluminum cans at the OCC Recycling Center in Costa Mesa, California, on July 14, 2022.Paul Bersebach/MediaNews Group/Orange County Register via Getty Images

  • Prosecutors say a family that made $7.6 million from recycling defrauded the state of California.

  • The family, based in Southern California, is accused of recycling materials purchased in Arizona.

  • One million dollars’ worth of “illegally imported beverage containers” were found, according to a statement.

A California family that made millions of dollars just by recycling cans and bottles has been charged with multiple crimes that could lead to years behind bars.

In a criminal complaint filed this month, state prosecutors charged eight family members in Riverside County with defrauding the state by importing used bottles and cans from Arizona (about 178 tons in 8 months) and recycling them in California.

According to the recycling operation, the family made $7.6 million a statement from California Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office. Investigators also found a stash of “illegally imported beverage containers” worth another $1 million.

When someone buys a plastic or aluminum bottle in California, they typically pay an extra 5 to 10 cents in “California Redemption Value,” or CRV, which the consumer can get back by returning the items to one of the state’s more than 1,200 recycling centers . . Arizona does not have such a program.

“California’s recycling program is funded by consumers and helps protect our environment and our communities,” Bonta said. “Those who attempt to undermine its integrity through criminal operations will be held accountable.”

In the criminal complaint, prosecutors accused family members of unlawfully conspiring to commit grand larceny and defrauding California’s recycling program “chronically and continuously” requesting reimbursement for out-of-state containers and containers that had already been redeemed in California.

A felony charge of grand larceny in California is punishable by up to three years in state prison. The out-of-state container rescue to the extent the family is charged could increase the sentence by another three years.

Court documents did not identify an attorney for the defendants, who have not been convicted of any crimes.

Last year, six people were indicted in a similar recycling operation from Arizona to California that prosecutors say made more than $10 million by fraudulently exchanging more than nine tons of empty beverage containers .

At least 93 people in California were convicted of recycling fraud between 2010 and 2019, according to a report by the non-profit organization Consumer Watchdog.

Got a news tip? Email this reporter: cdavis@insider.com

Read the original article at Business Insider

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