Computer Firm, Owner Sentenced For International Environmental, Computer Crimes

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E-waste

DETROIT — A Michigan computer company and its owner were sentenced last week for trafficking in counterfeit goods and services and violating environmental laws, announced Barbara L. McQuade, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by William Hayes, acting special agent in charge for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations Detroit and Randall Ashe, special agent in charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Criminal Investigation Division in Chicago, which covers the region.

Mark Jeffrey Glover and his company, Discount Computers Inc. were sentenced for trafficking in counterfeit goods and services. DCI was also sentenced for storing and disposing of hazardous waste without a permit. DCI received a $2 million fine and must pay $10,839 in restitution.

Glover was also sentenced to 30 months in prison and two years of supervised release. He must additionally pay a $10,000 fine. Glover pleaded guilty to the charges on behalf of his company and himself in October 2012.

DCI, headquartered in Canton Township, with warehouses in Maryland Heights, Mo., and Dayton, N.J., operated as a broker of used electronic components, such as computers and televisions. DCI resold working items and disassembled broken ones, selling them for scrap. A large part of DCI’s business involved exporting used cathode ray tube monitors to Middle Eastern and Asian countries. Egypt prohibits the importation of computer equipment which is more than five years old. To evade this requirement, all three DCI locations replaced original factory labels on used CRT monitors with counterfeit labels which reflected a more recent manufacture date. Over a five-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 CRT monitors.

Federal law makes it 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 federal Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. By exporting older CRTs with fraudulent manufacture dates, Glover sent a large quantity of older e-waste overseas which was subject to improper recycling, increasing the potential for environmental and human exposure to hazardous materials.

E-waste is a global concern because used electronic equipment contains 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 special agents with HSI and the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division.

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