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Sims paying $4.1M to settle theft-law case

Keywords: Tags  Sims Metal Management, metal theft, anti-theft law, rey mashayekhi

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 California’s 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.

Prosecutors had 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 delivering payment.

Sims employees allegedly purchased "clearly ‘stolen’ material" from undercover police officers and failed to record their identification, prosecutors said. A review of the company’s 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," prosecutors said.

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."

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