DENVER – Colorado Attorney General John W. Suthers today announced a forty-four count indictment returned by the statewide grand jury against the operators of a precious metal extraction business in Montrose County, Colorado. Joseph Casebolt and Steve Casebolt of Montrose, and Wayne Ratner of Maury County, Tennessee, have been indicted for alleged violations of the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act, securities fraud, attempt to influence a public servant, forgery, and twenty-eight violations of the Colorado Hazardous Waste Act.
“Financial fraud and organized crime continue to be among my office’s highest priorities,” commented Attorney General Suthers. “The defendants in this case allegedly colluded to harm the State of Colorado, its citizens, and its environment, and they will be judged accordingly.”
The indictment alleges the defendants operate a business currently known as Precious Metal Recovery, Inc. (formerly known as Elizabeth Mining) in Montrose County. PMR extracted precious grade metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium from used automotive catalytic converters – devices found in many vehicles to control pollutive exhaust emissions.
Among the allegations, the indictment asserts that the defendants enticed financial investment in their business by promising significant returns to potential investors, while, at the same time, failing to disclose that they generated hazardous waste – an inherent part of the industry – in compliance with state securities law. Further, it is alleged that the defendants violated the Colorado Hazardous Waste Act on several different occasions by illegally disposing of, storing, or treating hazardous waste on the premises.
The indictment concludes a two-year, joint investigation by the office of Colorado Attorney General John Suthers, the Criminal Investigations Unit and National Enforcement Investigations Center of the United States Environmental Protection Agency in Denver, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
The case will be prosecuted by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. While all of the alleged charges are felony offenses, the highest charge, violation of Colorado’s Organized Crime Control Act, includes the possibility of 24 years in prison and fines of up one million dollars per charge. Additional assistance in the case was provided by the office of District Attorney Mike Bottoms in Maury County Tennessee, Colorado 7th Judicial District Attorney Myrl Serra, and by the Montrose County Sheriff’s Department.
Joseph and Steve Casebolt have been arrested in Montrose, and Wayne Ratner turned himself in to Tennessee law enforcement late Monday. It should be noted, any indictment is merely an accusation of guilt, and all defendants are presumed innocent.