Flint man returns more than 10,000 non-refundable cans, bottles - WNEM TV 5

Flint man returns more than 10,000 non-refundable cans, bottles

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A Mid-Michigan man has admitted he stole from the state's bottle return program. 

John Custer Woodfill, 70, of Flint pleaded guilty Monday, March 20 to returning 10,000 or more out of state non-refundable pop and beer cans 

Investigators said from April 2012 to April 2015 Woodfill bought uncrushed non-returnable cans in the state of Indiana as scrap and immediately began returning them to Michigan to redeem them.

Officials said he had help from a partner who is now deceased.

The partner lived in Brownstown, Indiana where he bought locally non-refundable pop and beer cans for 60-80 cents a pound.

The cans were then trailered back to Flint by Woodfill where he developed a system of return throughout lower Michigan, investigators said.

He even created phony labels for some of the cans, officials said, to give them the appearance of a proper bar code for the automatic return machines.

“This was not a one-time nickel-and-dime case. This man orchestrated bogus refunds for tens of thousands of non-returnable beverage containers. In effect, he stole from Michigan’s bottle return program that has long served to protect and promote a healthy environment.  His actions also negatively affected distributors, merchants and even consumers who carry much of the burden in making the program work,” Attorney General Bill Shuette said.

As part of his plea deal, Woodfill had to forfeit the van the trailer he used in the scheme. He also owes $400,000 in restitution to the state.

His sentencing is scheduled for May. 

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