In early February 2011, Daniel Arnot (26), Corey Beard (22) and Justin Joyner (25), Georgia, pleaded guilty in a US federal district court to conspiring to release ozone-depleting substances into the environment.
“These three defendants have admitted to tearing apart industrial-sized air conditioners to steal the copper and aluminum parts to sell for scrap metal,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “When they did this, they released hundreds of pounds of dangerous, ozone-destroying substances into the atmosphere. Their greed not only hurt the businesses and establishments that lost their air conditioners in the sweltering Georgia summer, but it also harmed the environment – and that harm affects all of us. These defendants will now have to pay the consequences for their actions.”
Beginning in early August 2008, the defendants targeted businesses with commercial-sized air conditioners in Stephens, Hall, Franklin, and Hart Counties. They dismantled the air conditioning units so that they could steal the copper and aluminum parts. To steal the copper parts, they had to cut a copper coil in each unit. Cutting this coil released R22 into the atmosphere.
After dismantling the air conditioners, the defendants stored the copper and Aluminum parts in a rented storage room. After gathering enough stolen parts, they would sell the copper and aluminum parts to scrap metal recycling businesses. The defendants admitted that they dismantled approximately 35 air conditioning units from 14 establishments, including businesses, an Elks Lodge, a golf course, and a church.
Arnot, Beard, and Joyner were indicted in June 2010 on one count of conspiring to release ozone-depleting substances into the environment and twelve counts of releasing such substances into the environment. Arnot pleaded guilty to all thirteen counts in the indictment. He could receive a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison and a fine of up to $3,250,000.
Beard pleaded guilty to conspiring to release ozone-depleting substances into the atmosphere and nine counts of releasing the substances into the environment. He could receive a maximum sentence of 50 years and a fine of up to $2,500,000.
Joyner pleaded guilty to conspiring to release ozone-depleting substances into the atmosphere and one count of releasing such substances into the atmosphere. He could receive a maximum sentence of 10 years and a fine of up to $500,000. In determining the actual sentence, the Court will consider the United States Sentencing Guidelines, which are not binding but provide appropriate sentencing ranges for most offenders.
Sentencing for Arnot, Beard and Joyner have not yet been scheduled. A fourth co-defendant, Sabrina Westbrooks Arnot, awaits trial.
Source: United States Federal Bureau of Investigation