Most people know better than to just throw their electronics in the trash. Instead, they should be responsibly recycled, which is where companies like Intercon come in. As technology evolves faster than ever and objects become obsolete almost as soon as they’re introduced to the market, Brian Brundage saw an opportunity to make some major profits for his company, Intercon.
Most people just don’t want to deal with the hassle of trying to figure out how to properly dispose of their electronics. They’d much rather hand their electronics off to a third party and trust they’ll recycle the old electronics responsibly. But what if the company they trust to recycle their used electronics isn’t as trustworthy as it seems?
Brundage’s company, Intercon, was supposed to be the company that would take used electronics off the hands of people and the corporations they ran. Intercon claimed their operations were eco-friendly and that none of the electronics they took went into a landfill when, in fact, much of the e-waste they took from their clients either went into a landfill, to third parties in China, or to other places that were equally unfriendly to the environment.
Brundage started working for Intercon in 2000 after moving to Chicago from Florida. By 2005 he had risen to CEO and held a 50% stake in the company. In 2011, an environmental watchdog group revealed Intercon for the scam it was. At the same time, Brundage ordered the use of heavy machinery to smash CRT monitors. He also sent thousands of tons of e-waste to landfills, even though they were potentially hazardous materials and the landfills to which he sent them were not licensed to handle hazardous electronic materials. Then, to cover his tracks, Brundage had data wiped from Intercon computers to cover his tracks regarding his deceptive business practices.
Because Intercon was paid to recycle the electronic materials they took in, rather than just throw them in a landfill, the company took in much more money than it spent under Brundage’s leadership, especially since it was also taking money from third parties from places like China to buy some of the used electronic parts the company was supposed to be recycling. The company took in more than $60 million in revenue while Brundage was CEO and while the company was disposing of more than three-quarters of the electronic waste it told its customers it was recycling for them.
By 2011, the company was doing so well that a WGN-Ch.9 news segment featured Brundage as the buyer of the latest limited-edition supercar. He described himself as a sports car enthusiast who was equally passionate about the environment and disposing of electronic waste in a responsible manner, but his business practices suggested otherwise. Shortly after the segment, Intercon’s business started to diminish as accusations spread of its deceptive business practices.
In late 2016 Brundage was arrested for misrepresenting how Intercon worked and what the company did with the electronic waste it took from its clients. A few months ago, Brundage pleaded guilty to wire fraud and tax evasion, admitting he avoided paying more than $700,000 in federal taxes by concealing the true workings of Intercon.
After pleading guilty, Brundage was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison and ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution. Part of that money was to pay back the federal government for the taxes he had previously avoided paying, while the rest was meant to repay the customers he had defrauded in the course of his scheme.
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