A tire adjuster at a Bridgestone/Firestone tire warehouse in Norcross has been charged with illegally selling used and recalled Firestone tires, including some of the 297,000 Steeltex radials BFS recalled last February.
Investigators for the Gwinnett County district attorney's office arrested John L. Strong Nov. 22 at his home in Norcross. At the time, the D.A.'s office said, they found about 400 tires at the home and a nearby storage facility.
Mr. Strong allegedly took from the warehouse both used, adjusted tires collected from dealerships and recalled Steeltex tires that BFS intended to be destroyed. He sold them from his home and at flea markets and auctions in the metro Atlanta area, the D.A.'s office said.
``We received a tip from a confidential informant that this individual (Mr. Strong) was selling those tires,'' a BFS spokesman said. ``We noticed a substantial problem and took the information to local authorities.''
Gwinnett County Prosecutor Danny Porter said BFS alerted his office to Mr. Strong's alleged activities in October, after having made two undercover purchases of tires from him. After investigators from Mr. Porter's office made their own undercover buy from Mr. Strong, they arrested him, Mr. Porter added.
Mr. Porter said he wasn't sure precisely how many tires Mr. Strong allegedly sold, but added that Mr. Strong faced as many as 400 misdemeanor counts of selling tires illegally. He could receive a sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 on each count, Mr. Porter said.
Mr. Strong did not return phone calls to his home.
Meanwhile, the BFS spokesman urged anyone who might have purchased a recalled Steeltex tire from Mr. Strong to go to the nearest Firestone dealership. The company will replace the tires free of charge, he said.
BFS manufactured the recalled Steeltex A/T radials, size LT265/75R16, Load Range D, at its plant in Joliette, Quebec, between March 1999 and December 2002. Both the tire maker and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found those tires prone to both tread separation and sidewall failure, leading to six accidents, five deaths and 20 injuries. BFS no longer makes Steeltex tires in Load Range D.