- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - A scrap metal business must dissolve and pay restitution after its owner was convicted of engaging in an organized criminal enterprise.

William “Bill” Smith, 80, entered a Kennedy plea on Monday, while West End Recycling pleaded guilty to five counts of receiving stolen scrap metal, according to media reports. A Kennedy plea allows a conviction without the defendant admitting guilt or explaining their role in a crime.

The conviction of engaging in an organized criminal enterprise is the first in the state under a law enacted in 2010 intended to deter metal thefts.

Smith and his recycling business were indicted on 202 counts last year related to receiving stolen scrap metal. West End Recycling accepted 74,191 pounds of nickel and copper wire worth more than $315,000 over a three-year span, according to the June 2015 indictment.

Now, West End Recycling must dissolve and pay $200,000 in restitution. The majority will be paid to Special Metals in the amount of $164,591.

The conviction has had a tremendous effect on crime in the Huntington area, said Assistant Prosecutor Joe Fincham.

“The reason there was so much copper theft is because everyone knew there was a place to take it,” he said. “They knew if you stole cooper you could take it to West End Recycling and turn it into money for your next fix. No longer is that the case.”

Smith will be sentenced on June 14. He faces up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $25,000.

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