OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the sentencing of the final defendant involved in a four-year recycling fraud scheme. As part of the scheme, employees of Recycling Service Alliance Corp. (RSA), a CalRecycle certified redemption center in Sacramento County, submitted tens of thousands of fraudulent recycling claims to obtain higher California Redemption Value (CRV) refunds. On September 3, 2021, RSA pleaded guilty to fraud in recovery of recycling payments. As part of the plea agreement, the company is required to pay $33 million in restitution and a fine of $1 million. Maximina Perez, a former RSA manager, was sentenced to seven years in prison, which will be suspended if she successfully completes five years of probation. Perez is also prohibited from working for any processor or recycling facility certified by CalRecycle in the future. Restitution for Perez will be decided at a future hearing.
“As a participant in the state’s Beverage Container Recycling Program, Recycling Service Alliance Corp. should have helped increase California’s environmental stewardship through conservation and waste reduction,” said Attorney General Rob Bonta. “Instead, the company employed a massive fraud scheme. Those who choose to take advantage of state programs in order to pad their pockets will be held accountable.”
"California’s Beverage Container Recycling program reduces litter and trash pollution, recycling 426 billion bottles and cans since the 1980s,” CalRecycle Director Rachel Machi Wagoner said. “CalRecycle’s collaboration with the California Department of Justice and other state and local partners protects funds that belong to consumers who recycle.”
From 2012 to 2016, RSA, coordinated by Perez, fraudulently processed out-of-state empty beverage containers for CRV refunds and manufactured fraudulent weight tickets to justify inflated state payments and reimbursement claims. Former employees of RSA have claimed Perez allowed recyclers to recycle non-CRV recyclables and inflated the weight of their recyclables by manually manipulating their weight tickets. As a result, recyclers were overpaid by the CRV fund for their recycled materials. Perez profited from this by receiving cash and checks from individual recyclers and embezzling money from RSA. According to a forensic audit of her bank account, Perez profited $418,170.25.
In 2017, a grand jury indicted Tseng, Perez, and three other defendants on a total of 166 counts, including grand theft, recycling fraud, perjury, and conspiracy. Perez was indicted on 159 felony counts, including 61 counts of forging/falsifying public records and documents, one count of conspiracy, 47 counts of grand theft, 47 counts of fraud in recovery of recycling payments, and three counts of perjury. Tseng was indicted on 156 felony counts. The cases against the other three defendants were dismissed. Perez pleaded guilty to fraud in recovery of recycling payments, forging/falsifying public records and documents, offering and preparing false evidence, and perjury.
This case was investigated by CalRecycle and the California Department of Justice (DOJ). DOJ’s Special Prosecutions Section (SPS) handled the prosecution. SPS prosecutes complex criminal cases, primarily related to financial, securities, mortgage, and environmental fraud, public corruption, “underground economy” offenses, including tax and revenue fraud and counterfeiting, and human trafficking.
A copy of the indictment is available here.