According to the complaint, Schmolke and his associate, Edwin Reilly, allegedly shipped six large industrial refrigeration units to Venezuela for refurbishing and recharging with R-12 (The News, March 1, 1999).
While in Venezuela, Schmolke and Reilly allegedly rebuilt the refrigeration units to hold more than 2,500 lb of CFC-12. CFC-12 production is legal in Venezuela for another decade.
Once the units arrived in the United States, Schmolke and Reilly were said to have removed the refrigerant and put it into smaller containers for resale.
Reilly pleaded guilty to smuggling the refrigerant earlier this year and is awaiting sentencing. Schmolke is expected to be arraigned soon on the charges.
A report issued by a consulting firm for the EPA concluded that illegal imports of CFC-12 have been significantly curtailed through aggressive law enforcement.
According to the report, between 15 million and 30 million lb of CFC-12 were illegally imported into the U.S. in 1994 and 1995. That volume was said to have dropped to an estimated 5 million to 10 million lb in 1996 and 1997.
According to the EPA, recent enforcement actions and convictions included the following.