owner of a Pittsburgh scrap metal operation has pleaded guilty
in U.S. District Court in Maryland to charges of obstructing
justice for allegedly lying to federal agents during a grand
jury investigation of a nickel heist.
George Warhola, owner
of A.J. Warhola Scrap Metal, admitted to falsely telling
special agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in
June 2011 that he didnt deal in nickel. Federal
authorities had subpoenaed from Warhola all copies of records
for the purchase of nickel.
Warhola, who will
be sentenced Jan. 23, faces 10 years in prison and a fine of up
to $250,000. He has already agreed to pay $148,297 in
According to court
documents, Warhola purchased nickel briquettes from the owners
of a Maryland warehouse that held the metal for an
international mining customer. The two men who opened the
warehouse in 2006 pleaded guilty in the Maryland court last
year to conspiring to transport stolen nickel briquettes (
amm.com, April 26, 2012).
Between 2006 and 2011,
an estimated 80,000 pounds of nickel was allegedly diverted
from the warehouse.
Warhola allegedly sold
some of the nickel to a person identified in court papers as
C.M., owner of Three Rivers Scrap Metal Inc., also in
Pittsburgh. Three Rivers is owned by Chuck Menzock, according
to Pennsylvania business records. Federal court records
indicate there are no active charges pending for Menzock.
contacted C.M. because he needed a third party to sell the
metal since he didnt have contracts with mills who
consume nickel, according to court the documents.
C.M. allegedly found a
buyer for the nickel and paid Warhola in cash amounts higher
than $10,000 between April and November 2010, the court
documents show. To disguise the origin of the nickel and the
size of the transaction, C.M. created at least 24 fake nickel
receipts for amounts less than $10,000. Financial institutions
have to report cash transactions above this threshold.
Neither Warhola nor
Menzock could be reached for comment.