California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

News Release

Office of Public Affairs

For Immediate Release: September 18, 2015
Release #2015-21
Media Contact:
Lance Klug (CalRecycle)

Update: Guilty Plea from Recycling Fraud Ringleader. Two Await Sentencing in $14 Million Fraud Scheme 

SACRAMENTO--The Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) will receive $1.3 million in restitution from the alleged ringleader of a recycling scheme involving more than 20 recycling centers in Southern California. Gonzalo Rodriguez is the fourth suspect to accept a plea deal from CalRecycle’s enforcement partners in the California Department of Justice.

  • Gonzalo Rodriguez will be sentenced Oct. 1 after pleading guilty to felony recycling fraud and grand theft with a white-collar enhancement. As part of the deal, Rodriguez will spend 14 months in custody, have 22 months supervised release, and pay CalRecycle $1.3 million in restitution.
  • Belen Gonzales will be sentenced Oct. 1 after pleading guilty to being an accessory (to a felony) after the fact. She was sentenced to time served (five months actual time) and no restitution.

Read the August 2015 news release regarding the sentencing of two other suspects in this case. The fifth suspect named in the original indictment, 26-year-old Adriana Rodriguez of Sylmar, is still at large.

Recycling Fraud Scheme Recap

  • In September 2013, agents observe Rodriguez Recycling (Los Angeles) importing used beverage containers from Arizona.
  • In April 2014, agents travel to Phoenix and see individuals load a tractor-trailer with empty beverage containers. Agents follow the truck to Bakersfield and witness the delivery to Sequoia Resources.
  • S&S Recycling of Bakersfield, Ignacio Recycling of Lamont, and Gonzalez Recycling of Bakersfield claim California Redemption Value for the loads.
  • Subsequent warrants reveal a loan and delivery scheme at Sequoia Resources.
  • Agents uncover a large-scale fraud operation, organized by Gonzalo Rodriguez. The scheme spanned from 2012 to 2014 and resulted in $14 million in fraudulent redemptions by Rodriguez and his family.
  • CalRecycle terminates the program certifications of 20 recycling centers, and four others voluntarily decertify from the Beverage Container Recycling Program.
  • The California Department of Justice indicts five individuals on criminal charges.

California’s Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act incentivizes recycling through a CRV fee that’s paid by California consumers at the time of purchase and refunded upon return of the empty beverage containers. Since the fee is not paid on beverages purchased outside the state, those containers are not eligible for CRV redemption. The California Department of Justice investigates and prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of CalRecycle, which has administrative authority over the state’s beverage container recycling program.

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CalRecycle provides oversight of California solid waste handling and recycling programs to protect human health, develop sustainable solutions that conserve resources, and reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

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