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Colo. tire recycler pleads guilty in fraud case

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DENVER (Sept. 13, 2013) — A Colorado tire recycler has pleaded guilty to two counts in a case in which the state accused him of filing fraudulent waste tire tonnage reimbursement claims, according to the Office of the Colorado Attorney General.

Christopher Houtchens, president of Colorado Tire Solutions Inc., pleaded guilty Sept. 5 in Denver County District Court to one count of forgery and one count of possession of a forged instrument. He was sentenced to 10 days in jail and two years' probation.

Mr. Houtchens must also pay $17,189 in reimbursements to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). Colorado Tire Solutions must pay a $10,000 fine to the Colorado Environmental Crimes sampling fund.

The indictment against Mr. Houtchens listed six counts, including theft, attempted theft, forgery of a public record, a computer crime to scheme or defraud and two counts of attempting to influence a public servant.

Between May and December 2012, the indictment said, Mr. Houtchens filed false or inflated tonnage reimbursement documents with the CDPHE.

"Through the use of forged documents, phone calls, computers, fake email accounts and fraudulent emails, Mr. Houtchens committed these acts of theft and deceived public servants of CDPHE into issuing reimbursements under the Waste Tire Processor and End User Reimbursement Program," the indictment said.

Between July 2012 and March 2013, Mr. Houtchens also tried to influence CDPHE employees via fraudulent methods into giving him further reimbursements, it said.

"His excuse for breaking the law was that it was all right to do so 'because everybody does it,'" said Colorado Attorney General John Suthers in a press release. "He is now an example for everybody who thinks stealing from taxpayers is acceptable."

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