Aaron Perry, CEO and CFO of recycOil, a Boulder waste oil recycling firm also known as Rocky Mountain Sustainable Enterprises (RMSE), has been found guilty of trespassing on a competitor's property, but not guilty of harassment and a misdemeanor trespassing charge.
After a two-day trial, a Boulder County jury found Perry guilty of third-degree trespassing, a class one petty offense. He will be sentenced on October 7.
Sustainable Oil Services (SOS), another oil recycling company, filed trespassing charges against Perry and RMSE Vice President Adam Hall following an incident on September 17, 2010 in which the two entered SOS property after business hours and asked several questions about the business.
Hall pleaded guilty to trespassing in June and received a deferred sentence of eighteen months of unsupervised probation; he was also ordered to stay at least 100 feet away from SOS facilities. Perry said Hall pleaded guilty because he and his wife were planning on moving to China after she was offered a teaching position there, and they did not want a trial to derail their plans.
"I'm glad that there was a conviction indicating that a competitor came onto our premises illegally, for what purpose I guess is still unknown," says Kurt Lange, SOS founder and President. "They came in after hours, so it's pretty clear they had nefarious intentions in doing that."
But Lange was apparently very close to feeling no such vindication.
"As I understand it from my co-council, along with the prosecutor speaking to the jury after the verdict, it was a very, very close call even on that guilty charge," says Alex Garlin, Perry's lawyer. "In my opening statement and my closing statement, I had characterized what was happening as the trial that never should have been. And my understanding is that at least one of the jurors in the discussion post-verdict essentially echoed that sentiment. My understanding is it came extremely close to having been found not guilty on all three."
SOS also has accused RMSE of stealing $120,000 worth of oil and barrels. The company has filed six police reports related to barrels located at restaurants and hotels around the Front Range.
Mark Husmann, an investigator for the Boulder District Attorney's Office, says he has collected information on all six of the reports Lange filed for theft, but he wouldn't comment on the ongoing investigation. No charges have been filed based on these reports.
"I'm thinking this is just a start of things to come," says Lange. "As these other investigations begin to conclude, I would suspect that they may face additional charges."
RMSE is picturing a more harmonious future.
"Aaron Perry, as the CEO of recycOil and RMSE, and the company, are most interested in reaching out to SOS and its principals so that they can compete in this important industry in a cooperative way," Garlin says. "I know that Rocky Mountain Sustainable Enterprises is just looking for a new beginning in its interactions and relationship with SOS."
Nonetheless, the Daily Camera reports that recycOil filed a libel suit at the end of August against Jennifer Hronkin, a Longmont biofuel advocate and critic of recycOil. According to the Camera, the lawsuit states that Jennifer Hronkin "intentionally published on the Internet multiple false and defamatory statements about recycOil."
The lawsuit reportedly claims false and defamatory statements were made by Hronkin relating to grants recycOil received from both the USDA and the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
Perry said recycOil was awarded the grants but has not received any of the money because the scope of their projects has changed. He says much of the grant money was awarded to recycOil to help build a biodiesel plant in Morgan County, but since the company is now looking to build that plant closer to the Denver Metro area, it will not receive the grant money.
RMSE is reportedly seeking an injunction against Hronkin and unspecified damages.
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