Million-dollar cooking oil caper uncovered in Harford County

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Used cooking oil (via extension.org)
Used cooking oil (via extension.org)

Collecting cooking oil to run the old biodiesel-powered Volkswagen used to require nothing more than a knock on the kitchen door and a handshake. These days, it’s apparently a seven-figure business that’s ripe for Mafia-style impropriety.

According to The Aegis, three Harford men were charged this week with stealing used cooking oil from a Baltimore company, and getting a little extra green by converting it to biodiesel on their own. The three men were all charged with theft in a scheme that made them at least $1 million, according to the Harford County Sheriff’s office.

The owners of Baltimore’s 212 Capital Oils had an arrangement to send the used cooking oil to a Baltimore recycling plant, where it would converted to biodiesel. In June, they noticed a 15 percent drop in the amount of oil that was being returned.

Using a GPS device the owners planted, Harford County Sheriff’s Deputies tracked a company truck driven by Christian Cardona, of Baltimore, to a Joppa garage. There, they found a crew unloading the oil. Deputies later found that Cardona and another driver, Wilson Gutierrez, would drop off used oil at the garage in exchange for $300-400 per trip. Richard Figueroa, the owner of the garage and a company called Green Partners, LLC, would then oversee a scheme that involved refining the oil at the garage, and shipping it out of state to be converted to biodiesel. The truck made more than 40 visits to the garage between April and June.

The 212 Capital Oils owners weren’t completely cut out of the process, however. To make the truck look full, the crews loaded it up with waste from the refining process before shipping it back to Baltimore.



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