NEW YORK Sims
Metal Management Ltd. has reached a settlement with the
district attorneys in San Francisco and Contra Costa, Calif.,
that will see the recycler pay $4.1 million in civil penalties
and costs to resolve an investigation into alleged violations
of Californias anti-theft laws.
New York-based Sims,
which owns and operates eight metal recycling facilities in
northern California, will pay $2.7 million in penalties and
$1.4 million in prosecution costs to the district
attorneys offices, the company said Aug. 2.
alleged that their investigation found Sims employees violating
anti-theft laws requiring that dealers document individuals
selling certain types of scrap metal and wait three days before
allegedly purchased "clearly stolen material" from
undercover police officers and failed to record their
identification, prosecutors said. A review of the
companys records found such violations "were just the tip
of the iceberg," the prosecutors alleged, and that Sims had
violated laws "for years" by failing to withhold payments for
the required three days and purchasing scrap without obtaining
proper identification from sellers.
"California is facing
an epidemic of metal theft," Contra Costa district attorney
Mark A. Peterson said Aug. 2. "It is not enough to go after the
metal thieves alone. Recycling companies must be required to
act responsibly because they can deter metal theft."
The settlement also
includes a permanent injunction prohibiting future violations
and requiring that Sims adhere to "good business practices,"
Sims said the
settlement "in no way mean(s) that any actions by the company
resulted in harm to the public," and noted that it had not
admitted "any liability in this case."
Sims said it has
improved its training and cooperation with law enforcement to
deter metals theft. "As a result, the company believes that its
program aimed at discouraging metal thieves is stronger than it
has ever been."
Sims said that while
it "disagreed with the size of the financial settlement in this
case, the company believed it was important to put this
disagreement behind it."