Former landfill employees get jail time in fraud case


Bt Scott Morris Bay City News Service

Three former employees at Ox Mountain Landfill just east of Half Moon Bay who pleaded no contest to participating in a fraud scheme were sentenced to jail Wednesday, Dec. 14, but had their charges reduced to misdemeanors.

Isaac Molina-Lopez, 27, Rui Navalhas, 46, and Orlando Duarte Pires, 46, were all sentenced in the Redwood City courtroom of Judge Elizabeth Lee, District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. A fourth defendant, Jose Lopez, 33, was sentenced last month.

Prosecutors had wanted felony convictions for all three and alleged that they had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars, but Judge Lee found that all four defendants needed to pay just under $60,000.

Lopez was ordered to pay $30,842 in restitution last month. Molina-Lopez already paid $12,638, Pires paid $12,517, and Navalhas paid $4,000, Wagstaffe said.

According to their plea agreements, each would be sentenced to no more than 90 days in jail. Navalhas was sentenced to 60 days, Molina-Lopez to 30 days and Pires to 90 days, Wagstaffe said. Each was also sentenced to three years of probation.

The four had pleaded no contest to one count of grand theft each for participating in the scheme through their jobs at the landfill between January 2010 and August 2013.

They all worked as weigh house operators monitoring customer transactions going in and out of the landfill. They misclassified construction waste as green waste, which is cheaper to dispose of because of its minimal environmental impact, according to prosecutors.

They also recorded incomplete or partial truck weights to certain customers. When the Ox Mountain management discovered the thefts, they confronted the employees, who admitted the crimes, prosecutors said.

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