01 May 2013

Former VP of shipbreaking company gets 21 months in scrap-metal scheme

The former vice president of a ship-breaking company was sentenced to 21 months in prison Friday in a scheme in which almost $200,000 worth of scrap metal was stolen.

Stephen Michael Dunavant, 58, of Powhatan County, who pleaded guilty earlier to wire fraud, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson. Dunavant must also pay $199,885 in restitution.

According to authorities, Dunavant worked for Modern American Recycling Services Inc., which has operations in Louisiana, Florida, Alabama and Virginia, buying vessels to cut up for scrap metal sold for recycling.

Dunavant oversaw the demolition of vessels belonging to MARS and the sale of scrap at various locations, including the firm’s Charles City County site on waterfront leased at the Shirley Plantation.

Without the company’s knowledge, Dunavant sold some of the scrap to a recycling business in Richmond, either delivering it himself or paying others to do so. In pleading guilty, Dunavant admitted he was paid by check or wire for the scrap.

Federal sentencing guidelines called for a prison term of 15 to 21 months. In a motion filed with the court, Dunavant’s lawyer, Charles E. James Jr., asked for a term below the guidelines, pointing out that Dunavant had no prior record and admitted his wrongdoing.

“He is a broken man,” wrote James, who said Dunavant and his wife have filed for bankruptcy and “he is, and will always be, keenly aware of what might have been, and his own consciousness of the way he wasted his opportunities.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office asked for a term within the sentencing guidelines.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch. BY FRANK GREEN. 14 April 2013

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