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Men arrested, charged in large California recycling scheme

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Six men have been charged with running a recycling fraud scheme that trucked tons of trash from Las Vegas casinos into California in order to collect state redemption money, authorities announced Wednesday.

A criminal complaint filed in February in San Bernardino County charged seven men with conspiracy, grand theft and unlawful recycling, including the owner of West Coast Waste Industries, the state’s third-largest recycling processor, authorities said.

Six have been arrested and one man remains at large, according to a statement from the state Department of Justice and CalRecycle, which oversees the state’s recycling program.

Under the program, Californians pay a deposit on cans and bottles they buy and receive a refund when the empties are returned to a certified recycling center.

Prosecutors contend that last year, the men trucked tens of thousands of pounds of aluminum and plastic beverage containers from casinos to Southern California recycling centers in order to collect the 5- or 10-cent cash refunds.

The containers were imported from a recycling center in Las Vegas, prosecutors contend.

The men also are accused of filing phony redemption claims for tons of nonexistent or previously redeemed containers.

More than $300,000 in cash was seized from West Coast Waste Industries during the four-month-long investigation, authorities said.

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