Two years’ probation added in scrap metal scheme
HUNTINGTON — More than two years after he was convicted of operating an organized crime ring, a former Huntington business owner is struggling to pay restitution and sell his property, which he agreed to do to stay out of prison.
William “Bill” Smith, 82, of South Point, Ohio, the former owner of West End Recycling, had been placed on two years’ probation in July 2016 after a three-year jail sentence was suspended. The sentence came after he had entered a Kennedy plea to engaging in a criminal enterprise. On behalf of West End Recycling, he also pleaded guilty to five counts of receiving stolen scrap metal.
A Kennedy plea allows a conviction without the defendant admitting guilt or explaining his or her role in a crime.
At his 2016 sentencing, Smith had been ordered to pay $200,000 in restitution and $12,500 in fines. He immediately paid $75,000 to the court on that date. Within six months of sentencing, $25,000 more in restitution was owed and the remaining $100,000 was supposed to be paid within 18 months, as part of the plea deal.
Smith returned to Cabell Circuit Judge Paul T. Farrell’s courtroom Tuesday and Farrell ordered Smith’s probation be extended two years because he still owes around $100,000 in restitution and has failed to sell all his West Huntington properties.
Smith engaged in a criminal enterprise by accepting 74,191 pounds of nickel and copper wire worth more than $325,000 between September 2012 and February 2015, according to the June 2015 indictment. It states paying for the stolen metal prompted theft by Smith and a group of at least 10 other participants.
Smith’s conviction marked the first in the state under the engaging in an organized criminal enterprise statute. The law was created to deter the theft of metal, a crime that has plagued the area since its initial sharp increase a decade ago alongside a rise in drug addiction.
The restitution was ordered to help pay back companies affected by Smith’s criminal acts.
Special Metals was to receive the most restitution — $164,591.92 — to help repay more than 22,853 pounds of nickel worth $168,591 that were stolen. The nickel was extremely rare and not accessible to the public.
Frontier Communications was ordered to receive $6,324 in restitution. Of the remaining money, $20,000 will go to investigators with the Cabell County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, and the West Virginia State Police will receive just over $9,084.
To pay the restitution, Smith was ordered to sell eight West Huntington properties, including West End Recycling’s lots.
Follow reporter Courtney Hessler at Facebook.com/CHesslerHD and via Twitter @HesslerHD.