Recycling Executives Spearheading Scheme Involving Stolen Postal Service Equipment Sentenced to Two Years in Federal Prison and Ordered to Pay $3.4 Million in Restitution
LOS ANGELES – The central players in a scheme to recycle stolen postal pallets have been sentenced to two years in federal prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to convert government property and conspiracy to launder money.
Jorge Villalobos, 41, of Riverside, was sentenced in April, and Hugo Guzman, 40, of Fontana, was sentenced yesterday, both by United States District Judge Manuel L. Real. In addition to the prison time, they were ordered to pay $3.4 million in restitution, the largest restitution amount ordered for theft of United States Postal Service (USPS) property, according to the USPS. Based on court records, this restitution has been paid in full.
Villalobos is President and Guzman is Vice President of Go Green Industries in Riverside. The business is a plastics recycler, processor, and compounder. According to court records, between 2008 and 2014, Villalobos and Guzman, through Go Green Industries, knowingly acquired stolen USPS plastic pallets, shredded them, and sold the resulting plastic on the open market for corporate profit. Further, Villalobos and Guzman laundered the proceeds from this illegal activity by transferring the money to two straw-person accounts, and then using those accounts to promote further unlawful activity.
“These defendants siphoned millions of dollars from the USPS by actively seeking out stolen pallets, and pumping money from the sales into their business,” said United States Attorney Nicola T. Hanna. “They intentionally incentivized theft of government property and their sentences should deter those who would follow in their footsteps.”
“Delivering mail over 1.5 billion miles last year to over 157 million residences, businesses and P.O. Boxes each day takes many containers, pallets, carts and trays,” said Nichole Cooper, Inspector in Charge of the Los Angeles Division of the Postal Inspection Service. “Theft of this equipment feeds an industry and Postal Inspectors are dedicated to identifying and recovering postal equipment and assets, and seeking prosecution when necessary. The Inspection Service is proud at the result of this investigation and the award of over $3.4 million in restitution to the Postal Service.”
In its sentencing papers, the government argued that these executives directed the affairs of a company that “played an integral role in the black market of stolen government property in Southern California” and that the company “aggregated the efforts of multiple plastics thieves” and “created a demand for further theft.”
“Villalobos and Guzman executed a money laundering scheme whereby they used bank accounts in the names of two other individuals to hide proceeds of Go Green’s dirty activity,” said R. Damon Rowe, Special Agent in Charge of IRS Criminal Investigation. “We are proud to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate and prosecute individuals who attempt to enrich themselves by fraudulent means and to help put a stop to this and other types of white collar crime.”
This case is being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Puneet V. Kakkar of the Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force Section.