Crime Florida Style
Would you believe generator smuggling? Those pesky Chinese Manufacturers. How dare they violate EPA standards?(Time for sarcastic laughter)
Open Post- Third World County, Jo's Cafe, Bright & Early,
Back in the simpler life of the 1970s and 1980s, when winds were merely the force that pushed sailboats on the bay, Miami smugglers were known for cocaine and cowboys, pot bales and rusting tankers, Cigarette boats and mules who swallowed balloons.
Now, in these hurricane-ridden days of the early 21st century, comes a new kind of smuggler -- the generator man.
Federal officials announced Thursday the sentencing of Ramond Paul Osbourne, a Broward resident, for the illegal importation of 75 portable generators that did not comply with the standards of the Environmental Protection Agency.
According to court records, Osbourne attempted to import 20 portable diesel generators and 55 portable gasoline models from China in 2005. The generators were seized after investigators determined they lacked EPA-issued certificates as required by the Clean Air Act.
Osbourne then reached a settlement with the EPA to export the non-complying generators within 30 days. Rather than do that, prosecutors charged, Osbourne contacted a freight forwarding company and falsely filled out EPA forms stating the generators were in compliance.
Osbourne's attorney, Benjamin Waxman, said, ''This is a guy who repairs generators for a living.'' The lawyer is not certain of the timing of the importation during last year's brutal hurricane season, but Osbourne at some point borrowed $26,000 to bring in the generators.
When Customs seized the generators the first time, Osbourne realized he didn't see a way to export the machines and get his money back, so he signed some EPA forms to get the generators into the country, Waxman said.
''This was an inexperienced guy,'' the attorney said. ``The regulations are certainly confusing and even contradictory.''
Osbourne ended up pleading guilty. U.S. District Court Judge Donald L. Graham sentenced him to two years probation, including six months of home detention.
He must also pay the costs incurred by the government in storing the illegal generators and forfeit his interest in them.