A Miami man has pleaded guilty to illegal refrigerant smuggling operation
Brendan Clery, 34, of Miami, has pled guilty before a U.S. District Court Judge to a one count Information charging him with knowingly importing approximately 278,256 kilograms of illegal hydrochlorofluorocarbon - 22 (HCFC-22), contrary to the provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA).
According to court records and statements made in court, in 2005 Clery formed Lateral Investments, a Florida corporation, for the purpose of importing merchandise, including refrigerant gas.
Clery was the President of Lateral. Between June and August 2007, Clery illegally smuggled large quantities of HCFC-22 into the United States to sell on the black market.
During 2007, Clery illegally imported approximately 278,256 kilograms or 20,460 cylinders of restricted HCFC22, with a market value of $1,438,270.
United States Attorney Ferrer said, “The illegal importation of ozone depleting substances threatens our well being and endangers our environment. My Office will continue to support the EPA and ICE in our efforts to enforce our nation’s laws and protect our environment.”
EPA SAC Maureen O’Mara said, “Refrigerant gas depletes the stratospheric ozone layer, which protects people from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation such as skin cancer and cataracts. Today’s conviction sends a clear message that those who place the public at risk in order to make illegal profits will be vigorously prosecuted.”
“The effort to protect the ozone layer is a great success, but the job is not finished yet; scientists report that thinning continues to occur seasonally not just in the Antarctic, but also increasingly at the North Pole,” said Drusilla Hufford, U.S. EPA Stratospheric Protection Division Director. “When we prevent smugglers from illegally profiting by bringing falsely documented ozone depleting chemicals into the U.S., we are protecting the health of Americans and the ozone layer as well.”