You are here

Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Alabama

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Two Men Plead Guilty To Offenses Involving The Theft, Sale, And Interstate Transportation Of Semi-Conductor Grade Polysilicon From A Local Plant

Kenyen R. Brown, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Alabama announced that Willie Richard Short, age 62, a resident of Loxley, Alabama, and George J. Welford, age 61, a resident of Gautier, Mississippi, entered guilty pleas today before United States District Judge Kristi K. Dubose to two federal offenses: conspiracy to transport stolen goods in interstate and foreign commerce, and conspiracy to launder the proceeds from the sale of the stolen polysilicon.

Short and Welford admitted in open court that in early-2009 they began stealing high-purity, semi-conductor grade polysilicon from their employer, a manufacturing plant located in Theodore, Alabama, and continued doing so until January 2014. Short and Welford hid the stolen polysilicon in their lunch boxes, back packs, and lockers, and transported the stolen goods in their personal vehicles.

Short and Welford searched the internet for a buyer for the stolen goods, and used the fake names "William Smith" and "Butch Cassidy" to communicate with the buyer. Short and Welford agreed to sell the stolen polysilicon to this buyer on the condition that all payments for the loads of polysilicon had to be made in cash and in person. The rendezvous sites for the

delivery of the cash payments were located in Mobile, Alabama, Pensacola, Florida, Shreveport, Louisiana, and elsewhere.

Short admitted that he conspired to steal, sell, and transport in interstate commerce at least 42,000 kilograms (42 metric tons) of polysilicon, and Welford admitted that he conspired to steal, sell, and transport in interstate commerce at least 29,000 kilograms (29 metric tons) of polysilicon. The total amount of stolen polysilicon had a market value of approximately $2.6 million.

This case was investigated by the Department of Homeland Security and the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, and is being prosecuted by Donna B. Dobbins and Christopher J. Bodnar, Assistant United States Attorneys in the United States Attorney=s Office for the Southern District of Alabama.

Updated February 26, 2015