A former Baltimore landfill employee pleaded guilty on Thursday to a scheme in which he and others stole thousands of dollars worth of scrap metal, federal prosecutors said.
Michael Theodore Bennett, 46, and other landfill employees, including supervisor William Nemec, allegedly collected the scrap metal, which they sold to salvage companies for private profit, beginning in 2007 until May this year, according to Bennett's plea agreement.
Scrap metal collected at the landfill is sold to private salvage companies and is a source of revenue for the city. Salvaging by employees, also known as "junking," is prohibited. But authorities said Bennett and others used some of the profits to pay off other employees to keep them from reporting the scheme, and help them collect metal.
Bennett failed to report approximately $479,468 of income for tax years 2011, through 2013, the plea agreement said. Most of the income was from the illegal junking scheme.
The city lost $400,000 in the scheme, prosecutors said. It also cost the government $126,273 in unpaid tax returns on the profits. As part of his plea agreement, Bennett will pay restitution of $526,273.
Nemec and three other defendant have previously pleaded guilty in the scheme.
Bennett faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy to steal from a program receiving federal funds, 20 years in prison for wire fraud, and one year in prison for failure to file a tax return.
His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 21.