Three men plead guilty to Freon release during copper theft
4:50 pm, February 2nd, 2011
The U.S. attorney in Atlanta has secured guilty pleas from three north Georgia men who could face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines for conspiring to and releasing ozone-depleting Freon, a common air conditioner coolant, into the environment.
Federal prosecutors charged the three north Georgia men – Daniel Arnot, 26, Corey Beard, 22, and Justin Joyner, 25 – with releasing hundreds of pounds of ozone into the atmosphere while they were tearing apart industrial-sized air conditioners in order to steal the copper and aluminum parts to sell for scrap metal, according to Sally Quillian Yates, U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Northern District.
According to Yates, the trio and a fourth defendant, Sabrina Westbrooks Arnot, targeted businesses in Stephens, Hall, Franklin and Hart counties that had commercial air conditioning units, which they would pillage for their copper and aluminum parts and then sell the stolen metals for scrap at recycling centers.
In tearing apart what Yates said were more than 35 air conditioning units, they would release Freon, the brand name of a coolant that depletes the ozone layer of the atmosphere, Yates said.
Arnot could face a maximum sentence of 65 years in prison and a fine of as much as $3.2 million. Beard faces a maximum sentence of 50 years and a fines up to $2.5 million. Joyner faces a maximum sentence of 10 years and a $500,000 fine.