San Francisco district attorney George Gascón and Contra Costa County district attorney Mark A. Peterson announced that the company, which is also know as Sims Metal Management and Sims Metal, will pay the fine as part of a settlement of a civil prosecution brought by their offices.
In recent years, California has seen an increase in metal theft from local governments, construction sites, public transit, utilities and foreclosed homes, according to the San Francisco DA’s office. In an effort to shut down the market for stolen metal, the state has passed laws designed to prevent, deter and detect metal theft by imposing requirements on companies that purchase scrap metal.
For example, scrap metal dealers must take steps to determine that the material they are purchasing was not stolen, and they must photograph, fingerprint and record the identification of individuals selling certain types of scrap metal. Unless a statutory exception applies, dealers must also wait three days before paying the seller for the scrap metal, according to the office.
Sims owns and operates eight metal recycling facilities in Northern California. According to the district attorneys’ complaint, Sims consistently violated these anti-metal theft laws, the prosecutors say.
During the investigation of Sims, undercover officers in San Francisco and Contra Costa County offered to sell the company utility wire, communication wire and public utility fixtures. The company’s employees purchased the clearly “stolen” material, and failed to record the required information about the sellers. A lengthy review of the company’s records revealed that these failures were just “the tip of the iceberg,” according to the prosecutors. For many years, Sims violated the anti-metal theft laws by, for example, not holding payments for the required three days or buying scrap metal without requiring identification or other information from the sellers, the prosecutors say.
Under the settlement, Sims must pay $4.1 million in civil penalties and costs. Sims will also be bound by a permanent injunction that insures good business practices and prohibits future violations of the law. By entering into this injunction, Sims is agreeing to procedures that will make it a model for California metal recyclers in the future.
In other news, Texas-based Green Group Recycling is being sued by a group for allegedly not paying for scrap metal in Pennsylvania and Mexico, reports Amm.com.