FRANKLIN CO., OH (WCMH)– An undercover investigation into six scrap yards has led to indictments by a Franklin County Grand Jury on multiple charges, including corrupt activity and receiving stolen property.
According to a release from Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien, the Columbus Division of Police conducted a city-wide undercover investigation comprised in part of selling specialized copper wire and railroad material to the scrap yards.
The specialized scrap included burnt wire, railroad materials, AT&T communication wire and copper and aluminum wire from AEP.
The scrap yards indicted include:
- A to Z Recycling Indictment
- G-Cor Automotives Indictment
- Masser Metals Indictment
- New World Recycling Indictment
- PSC Metals Indictment
- Sims Brothers Recycling Indictment
O’Brien stated that some of the scrap yards knowingly broke the law, which led to the indictments, including one that allegedly received 56 Veteran Grave Markers from a Union Cemetery. Some of the markers had been destroyed by the scrap yard and were not able to be returned to Union Cemetery.
“That should be a red flag automatically when somebody brings this kind of stuff in. Where did this come from?” says Union Cemetery Salesman Jimmie Blevins.
Blevins has been with Union Cemetery nearly 30 years and he’s never seen anything like it.
“We usually don’t have that much trouble with people stealing off of graves, then to have that many,” says Blevins.
A to Z Recycling and its associates Lin Wang and Xiaodong Qu were also indicted for a pattern of corrupt activity and possessing criminal tools. Police say that’s where the stolen flag staffs were found.
For Blevins, that’s about as bad as it gets.
“Stealing period, from a deceased person. I mean, how low can you go?” he says. “It’s pretty bad.”
Union cemetery workers have replaced all the veteran flag staff markers they could identify. Unfortunately, some were not marked.
The recycling companies and their representatives are due in court February 19th.
Also found during the investigation according to O’Brien:
- 87 different beer kegs recovered.
- 409 storage bins that belong to Family Dollar and CVS.
- Pepsi Co. was able to recover 782 shells for 2 liter bottles.
- Coke was able to recover 317 shells and 7UP was able to recover 382.
- 7,800 pounds of shredded plastics recovered in bins.
- Almost 4 tons of Pepsi, Coke and 7UP property was shredded to be ship to China.
- 50 milk crates and over a hundred bread trays recovered.
All of the items were reportedly clearly marked as property of the companies.
“The theft of railroad materials and communication lines are not only crimes but can also create significant public safety hazards. The scrap metal facilities that contribute to this theft will be brought to justice” said O’Brien.
The City of Columbus requires electronic reporting of items purchased by scrap yards, and prohibits them from purchasing certain items.
The state of Ohio also has a “Do Not Buy From Convicted Thieves” list which has about 300,000 people registered on it.
According to O’Brien, as part of this investigation, three of the scrap yards purchased prohibited material from individuals who were barred from selling due to being listed on the “Do Not Buy From Convicted Thieves List”.