LAWFUEL – The Law News Network – A grand jury has indicted a San Dimas man on federal environmental and obstruction of justice charges for offering to properly dispose of fluorescent light tubes and other lamps that contained hazardous levels of lead and mercury, and then simply dumping these materials in storage lockers across Southern California
The grand jury returned a five-count indictment Wednesday against Robert J. Roberts, 64. The indictment charges Roberts with one count of storing hazardous wastes without a permit, two counts of making a false statement to a criminal investigator with the Department of Defense, one count of obstructing justice, and one count of making a false statement to the United States Marine Corps Base, Camp Pendleton.
Roberts owned a Glendora company known as Recyclights West, which was involved primarily in the business of transporting and disposing of fluorescent light tubes and high-intensity discharge lamps. Recyclights advertised itself as a company that recycled “hazardous waste lamps” in compliance with United States Environmental Protection Agency regulations. Recyclights also promised customers, such as the Los Angeles Air Force Base and Camp Pendleton, that it would issue a Certificate of Recycling.
The indictment alleges that, rather than recycling lamps, Roberts rented self-storage units throughout Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties and simply dumped the waste fluorescent tubes and lamps at the self-storage locations. When agents executed search warrants at approximately 30 storage units, they found tens of thousands of lights that contained hazardous levels of lead and mercury. Investigators also learned that Roberts had stopped paying rent for the units.
An indictment contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Roberts is currently in state custody on unrelated charges.
If he is convicted of the five counts in the indictment, Roberts could be sentenced to as much as 40 years in federal prison.
This case was investigated by the Office of Inspector General for the Department of Defense, the California Department of Toxic Substances Control and the United States Postal Inspection Service.
CONTACT: Assistant United States Attorney Dorothy C. Kim