WASHINGTON -- A Michigan computer company and its owner were sentenced today for trafficking in counterfeit goods and services and violating environmental laws.
U.S. District Judge David M. Lawson sentenced Mark Jeffrey Glover, to 30 months in prison and a $10,000 fine, and his company, Discount Computers, Inc. (DCI), a $2 million fine with $10,839 in restitution to Mich. 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, Mich., 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 which is more than five years old. To evade this requirement, 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, which is toxic hazardous waste. When deposited in a landfill the lead can leach out and contaminate drinking water supplies.
As a result, these types of 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 which was subjected to improper recycling, increasing the potential for environmental and human exposure to hazardous materials.
“EPA is committed to taking action on illegal exports of e-waste because they often end up in countries that lack the capacity to manage them safely,” said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s sentence, the first in an e-waste case, should serve as a warning that if you are caught illegally exporting hazardous e-waste for profit, there will be serious consequences.”
“Mr. Glover and his company falsified labels to conceal the age of computer monitors and their potential for hazardous waste,” said Barbara L. McQuade, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan. “We hope this case will encourage others to comply with laws designed to protect drinking water and prevent human exposure to toxic waste.”
'When potentially hazardous e-waste is not properly disposed of, human lives can seriously be impacted,' said William Hayes, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations in Detroit. 'The investigation confirmed that the defendant repeatedly and illegally exported used cathode ray tubes overseas. Homeland Security Investigations stands with our law enforcement partners ready to prevent any company from ignoring U.S. controls to export hazardous e-waste.'
E-waste is a global concern because 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 for proper 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.
The case was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Michigan by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Blackwell. The case was investigated by agents of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Criminal Investigation Division and U.S. Department of Homeland Security–Homeland Security Investigations, Detroit.
More information about EPA’s criminal enforcement program: http://epa.gov/enforcement/criminal/index.html