Air Conditioner Thief Pleads Guilty To Violating Clean Air Act

COLUMBUS, OHIO – Martin C. Eldridge III, 35, Columbus, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to violating the Clean Air Act when he cut the tubing on air conditioning units he was stealing and released a regulated refrigerant into the environment.

Carter M. Stewart, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Randall K. Ashe, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Ron O’Brien and Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs announced the plea entered today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Preston Deavers.

According to court documents, Eldridge and others stole at least 49 air conditioner units between August and October 2013 in order to sell the copper and parts from the units at scrap yards. When he cut the tubing that connected the air conditioner to the business or residence, a refrigerant known as HCFC-22 was released. The refrigerant is regulated under the Clean Air Act because it poses a significant threat to the Earth’s ozone layer. HCFC-22 is also known as R-22 and sold under the trade names of Freon, Genetron, Arcton and Forane.

Eldridge pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly venting HCFCs into the environment. Under terms of the plea agreement, Eldridge will serve 31 months in federal prison. The plea agreement recommends that Eldridge serve the federal sentence concurrent with [more]

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