From the USEPA Office of Criminal Enforcement, Forensics, and Training
Environmental Crimes Case Bulletin for March 2013
On March 25, 2013, MARK JEFFREY GLOVER was sentenced in federal district court for the Eastern District of Michigan to 30 months in prison and a $10,000 fine. His company, DISCOUNT COMPUTERS, INC. (DCI), was fined 2 million dollars, including $10,839 in restitution to Michigan landlord, for trafficking in counterfeit goods and services. DCI was also sentenced for storing and disposing of hazardous waste without a permit. Glover pleaded guilty to the charges on his behalf and that of his company in October 2012.
DCI, headquartered in Canton, Michigan, with warehouses in Maryland Heights, Mo., and Dayton, N.J., operated as a broker of used electronic components, including computers and televisions. DCI resold working and disassembled broken items, selling them for scrap. A large part of DCI’s business involved exporting used cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors to countries in the Middle East and Asia. Egypt prohibits the importation of computer equipment more than five years old. To evade this, all three DCI locations replaced the original factory labels on used CRT monitors with counterfeit labels, which reflected a more recent manufacture date. Over a five-year period, DCI sent at least 300 shipments to Egypt, with a total shipment value of at least $2.1 million, constituting more than 100,000 used CRTs monitors. Under federal law it is illegal to knowingly use a counterfeit mark on or in connection with goods and services for the purpose of deceit or confusion.
It is also illegal to store and dispose of hazardous waste, which includes certain electronic waste, or e-waste, without a permit. Glass from older CRT monitors is known to contain levels of lead, a known toxic hazardous waste. When deposited in landfills, the lead can leach out and contaminate drinking water supplies. These CRT monitors are required to be disposed of as hazardous waste under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. By exporting older CRTs with fraudulent manufacture dates, Mark Jeffrey Glover sent a large quantity of older e-waste overseas, thus subjecting it to improper recycling, increasing the potential for environmental and human exposure to hazardous materials.
E-waste disposal is a global concern. Used electronic equipment contains more than 1,000 different substances, including toxic heavy metals and organics that, if disposed of improperly, can cause significant pollution problems. Improper e-waste disposal is common in third world and developing countries because they are ill equipped to conduct safe, appropriate recycling, refurbishing, and disposal. It is also common in these countries to find black-market recycling groups that extract valuable metals from e-waste without regard for the safety of their impoverished employees who are exposed directly to toxic materials.
This case was investigated by EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division and U.S. Department of Homeland Security–Homeland Security Investigations, Detroit. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Michigan by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell.
Is your e-waste and e-scrap being handled and disposed of properly? Have you performed an audit of your e-waste recycling company? Do you know their status? It is important to be aware that even commonplace items like a computer can be a hazardous waste if not recycled properly. Proper training for you and your employees will help to raise awareness of this and other regulatory concerns of hazardous waste generators.