Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) is a dirty word to government agencies charged with enforcing the Clean Air Act, and it''s probably a dirty word to two men charged with illegally importing CFCs.
William Barlen of Madison, Conn. pleaded guilty on Oct. 10 to making a false statement to federal authorities and Alfredo Vega of Hato Rey of Puerto Rico pleaded guilty to conspiracy in a case stemming from a scheme to illegally import highly restricted CFCs. The two men, along with others, plotted for three years to import the CFCs in the names of several shell entities. They have also been charged with tax evasion.
According to the government, the scheme involved a $24 million tax fraud, wire fraud and money laundering operation.
Four other individuals, Pavel Perlov of Chelsea, Mass., Juan Carlos Gorbea of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Rudi Endres and Alicia Keigwin, both of Berwyn, Pa., previously pleaded guilty as a result of the investigation. Other defendants await trial.
When sentenced, Barlen and Vega each face maximum sentences of up to five years in prison and/or fines of up to $250,000.
The importation of CFCs is restricted under the Clean Air Act because the release of CFCs into the atmosphere damages the earth''s ozone layer That layer protects people from the harmful effects of ultraviolet light such as skin cancer and cataracts and destroys plant life, including crops.
The Environmental Protection Agency''s Criminal Investigation Division, the Internal Revenue Service''s Criminal Investigation Division and the U.S. Customs Service investigated the case. It is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney''s office in New Haven, Conn. and the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Department of Justice.
by Sandy Smith