William T. Wegrzyn, 41, of Wedowee, the owner of Red Hot Recycling in Anniston, was charged with 10 felony counts of secondary metals recycling.
Calhoun County Sheriff Larry Amerson said Wegrzyn was charged after a previous case involving a Red Hot Recycling employee went before a grand jury. Amerson said it was the grand jury’s opinion that Wegrzyn was present during the business transaction and saw what occurred.
“They concluded that being the owner, he should have known better than his employee,” Amerson said.
The employee, Anthony Keith Cumbee, 32, of Anniston, was charged April 23 with 10 felony counts of charges relating to required ownership documentation.
Amerson said his office was contacted in April by police in LaGrange, Ga., about an investigation involving 600 catalytic converters, a pollution reduction device in cars, stolen from a Kia Manufacturing plant.
Amerson said the 600 converters reported stolen were valued at $250,000.
Through an investigation, deputies discovered that 10 transactions involving new catalytic converters took place at Red Hot Recycling on U.S. 78 in Anniston.
Amerson said recycling records showed the suspect sold 1,054 catalytic converters to Red Hot Recycling, and was paid $50,000.
The sheriff said it is unlawful for secondary metal recyclers to purchase converters that are not part of a motor vehicle without documentation of proof of ownership. Cumbee did not receive proof of ownership for the parts he purchased, Amerson said.
Amerson said his office’s investigation discovered Wegrzyn was aware of the transaction and did nothing to impede it.
Wegrzyn was released Tuesday on a $100,000 bond from the Calhoun County Jail. A court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 5.
Wegrzyn said today that Red Hot Recycling was open and that he could not comment on pending legal issues. The owner referred all questions to his attorney, Derek Drennan.
“Bill Wegrzyn is a responsible, law-abiding business man,” Drennan wrote in an emailed statement. “We look forward to presenting our case in court and demonstrating that Bill’s actions were entirely consistent with the requirements of the law.”
Staff Writer Rachael Brown: 256-235-3562. On Twitter @RBrown_Star.