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Michigan Officials Bust Bottle-Deposit Fraud Ring (straight out of a "Seinfeld")
FOX News/AP ^

Posted on 09/28/2007 11:58:39 AM PDT by nuconvert

Michigan Officials Bust Bottle-Deposit Fraud Ring

DETROIT — They did what Kramer and Newman of "Seinfeld" could not.

Thirteen people have been arrested in connection with a smuggling ring that collected millions of beverage containers in other states and cashed them in for 10 cents apiece in Michigan as part of a scam straight out of a "Seinfeld" episode, authorities said Wednesday.

Authorities seized more than $500,000 in cash and 15 people were named in a 67-count warrant issued as part of Operation Can Scam, Attorney General Mike Cox said Wednesday. Some suspects were members of two smuggling rings based in Ohio and others were Michigan merchants who took part in the scheme, he said.

The probe recalled a 1996 episode of "Seinfeld" in which two characters learn about Michigan's 10-cent deposit law and head there with a truckload of 5-cent New York cans, hoping to cash in on the difference, before getting sidetracked.

"A half-million in cash is not 'Seinfeld' humor," Cox spokesman Matt Frendewey said.

Investigators alleged that millions of non-redeemable out-of-state cans were collected, crushed, packaged in plastic bags and sold at a discount to merchants who then redeemed them. Bulk redemption payments from the state are based on weight.

The scheme defrauded the Michigan Bottle Deposit Fund, whose proceeds are used to pay for environmental cleanup efforts, Cox said in a statement.

"Each year, this type of activity defrauds the state approximately $13 million," said Col. Peter Munoz,

(Excerpt) Read more at foxnews.com ...


TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: bottledeposit; crime; michigan; seinfeld
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1 posted on 09/28/2007 11:58:46 AM PDT by nuconvert
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To: nuconvert

Wow, the citizens of Michigan can now rest easier knowing that the can spammers have been put away. No wonder Michigan is swirling around in the toilet.


2 posted on 09/28/2007 12:04:24 PM PDT by caver (Yes, I did crawl out of a hole in the ground.)
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To: nuconvert

If they’re paying for them in the first place... Ya know, never mind, it’s government we’re talking about.


3 posted on 09/28/2007 12:04:25 PM PDT by kenth
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To: nuconvert
Here's a secret for you small time Seinfeld wannabes from a Michigan resident:

There is not difference between the barcode on Michigan deposit cans and cans from non deposit states. At Michigan grocery stores, you will find automated deposit refund machines that simply scan your can's barcode, count it, then crush it.

The machines have no way of telling a legitimate Michigan deposit can from a no-deposit can.

4 posted on 09/28/2007 12:05:14 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: nuconvert

That’s gold Jerry! GOLD!


5 posted on 09/28/2007 12:05:19 PM PDT by AntiKev ("No damage. The world's still turning isn't it?" - Stereo Goes Stellar - Blow Me A Holloway)
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To: nuconvert

Maybe michigan will learn their lesson and raise the deposit to $.20 to cover all the fraud.


6 posted on 09/28/2007 12:05:41 PM PDT by PeterPrinciple ( Seeking the truth here folks.)
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To: nuconvert

Why is this fraud? If Michigan is so STUPID as to pay above market prices for bulk aluminium, then naurally they will attrack it from all over. Did Michigan not receive not cans that might pollute if they are not recycled?


7 posted on 09/28/2007 12:05:53 PM PDT by JLS
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To: nuconvert

The whole deposit scheme is a fraud. They take the money up front when you buy the containers, and when you redeem them you never get the deposit amount.

And, the whole scam is based on the hopes that most of the bottles and cans aren’t returned, so they keep those deposits.


8 posted on 09/28/2007 12:09:15 PM PDT by rottndog (Government is a necessary evil, but as with all evils, the less of it the better.)
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To: Yo-Yo

Thanks for the tip. I live on the Inidana/Michigan border. ;)


9 posted on 09/28/2007 12:09:45 PM PDT by jaydubya2
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To: nuconvert

Not that there’s anything wrong with it.


10 posted on 09/28/2007 12:10:30 PM PDT by Paleo Conservative
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To: PeterPrinciple

“Maybe michigan will learn their lesson and raise the deposit to $.20 to cover all the fraud.”

LOL. That’s probably exactly what they will do!


11 posted on 09/28/2007 12:11:30 PM PDT by EEDUDE
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To: kenth
You’re right. This is government we’re talking about.

We should all just ignore the fact that the state of Michigan counts on 13m a year for environmental cleanup...funds that they collect from those who purchase cans and bottles and funds that COULD likely be returned to those who pay the fee.

In other words, if people collected the money owed them, the state would not have the funds for cleanup. Just like using a cigarette tax to pay for healthcare, the government needs people to smoke, to pay the tax, to pay for healthcare. But here, they need the people to pay a deposit on cans and bottles and then throw those bottles out the window of their car, so that the state can hire someone to go around and pick up those bottles and cans.

Brilliant.

12 posted on 09/28/2007 12:12:34 PM PDT by Ghost of Philip Marlowe (Liberals are blind. They are the dupes of Leftists who know exactly what they're doing.)
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To: jaydubya2
Then you're the last Indiana resident to know this trick!
13 posted on 09/28/2007 12:13:58 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: nuconvert

Is this real?? It’s illegal to recycle a frigging aluminum can in MI if you bought it in another state??

MI must have a really, really low crime rate if the cops can waste their time on crap like this.

Wait, isn’t Detroit in MI?


14 posted on 09/28/2007 12:15:48 PM PDT by ozzymandus
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To: Yo-Yo
When we lived in Connecticut, we knew several people who bought soda, beer, etc. in Rhode Island and redeemed the empties in Connecticut.

My next door neighbor used to drink a case of Michelob a day bought in RI with no deposit and redeemed in CT or MA for the nickles.

Said he got about 30 free cases of beer a year doing it.

15 posted on 09/28/2007 12:16:38 PM PDT by N. Theknow (Kennedys: Can't drive, can't fly, can't ski, can't skipper a boat; but they know what's best for us)
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To: Yo-Yo

HaHa, Some of us Hoosiers are kinda slow...


16 posted on 09/28/2007 12:17:13 PM PDT by jaydubya2
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To: EEDUDE
Shh! Don't give Jenny any ideas! They're already trying to cover a $1.7 Billion budget deficit.

However, when you think about it, when they started the bottle return law in 1976, the deposit was $.10. Here it is 31 years later, and it's still a dime.

17 posted on 09/28/2007 12:18:39 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: Paleo Conservative

18 posted on 09/28/2007 12:18:41 PM PDT by nuconvert ("Terrorism is not the enemy. It is a means to the ends of militant Islamism." MZJ)
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To: nuconvert

How is this “smuggling?” Aren’t the cans redeemable in Michigan? If I bought a can of pop in Wisconsin and (for some infathomable reason) drove across the border into Michigan, would I be smuggling if I tried to redeem my empty can? Is there a specific law that prohibits this endeavor?


19 posted on 09/28/2007 12:18:47 PM PDT by IronJack (=)
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To: nuconvert

The State of Michigan is just this close to being under full Sharia law and they worry about THIS?

Sheesh...strain at a gnat, swallow Achmed’s camel....


20 posted on 09/28/2007 12:19:00 PM PDT by duckbutt ( If you let a smile be your umbrella, then most likely your butt will get soaking wet.)
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To: nuconvert

With the help of Goober as his back-up, the Barney Fife deep cover operation finally comes to this fruitful conclusion. Andy is proud of this fine deputy.

Aunt Bee baked a pie to honor Barney.


21 posted on 09/28/2007 12:21:32 PM PDT by woollyone (whyquit.com ...if you think you can't quit, you're simply not informed yet.)
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To: JLS
Why is this fraud?

Its not a recycling program buying aluminum in bulk. It is the administration of a ten cents per can deposit program that has been in effect in Michigan since 1976.

It is easier for stores to crush the cans to reduce bulk, and the state pays the deposit amount according to weight.

Bulk aluminum is worth about .001 cents per can, not ten cents. Returning a can for ten cents when that can was never charged ten cents at the time of purchase is fraud.

22 posted on 09/28/2007 12:26:27 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: Ghost of Philip Marlowe

“...they need the people to pay a deposit on cans and bottles and then throw those bottles out the window of their car, so that the state can hire someone to go around and pick up those bottles and cans.”

I believe the purpose of the deposit is to encourage people to not throw the cans out their windows, so the state does not have to pay someone to go around and collect them.


23 posted on 09/28/2007 12:26:58 PM PDT by mouske
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To: nuconvert

On most cans/bottles that are refundable, there is a list of states and how much you can get for that can in each state.

I always thought that returning and item in one of the listed states would give you that amount and it was independent of where the can was purchased.

There’s no notice that you can’t use out of state cans anywhere. I can’t believe there is an actual law against this.


24 posted on 09/28/2007 12:27:57 PM PDT by varyouga ("Rove is some mysterious God of politics & mind control" - DU 10-24-06)
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To: IronJack
How is this “smuggling?” Aren’t the cans redeemable in Michigan? If I bought a can of pop in Wisconsin and (for some infathomable reason) drove across the border into Michigan, would I be smuggling if I tried to redeem my empty can? Is there a specific law that prohibits this endeavor?

It's not smuggling, and what you outline is perfectly legal. It's when you take the can to a store to collect the ten cent deposit that you never paid at time of purchase that is fraud, and it is illegal.

25 posted on 09/28/2007 12:28:27 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: nuconvert

So all the work they put into collecting, crushing, and bagging these cans was for naught. They should at least get to keep SOME of the money for their effort.


26 posted on 09/28/2007 12:29:43 PM PDT by Teflonic
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To: Yo-Yo
I don't suppose the legislature would just consider dropping the deposit charge to 5¢?

Or is the real reason revenue from the unclaimed deposit, rather than litter problem?

27 posted on 09/28/2007 12:30:57 PM PDT by Calvin Locke
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To: ozzymandus

“Is this real?? It’s illegal to recycle a frigging aluminum can in MI if you bought it in another state??”

No. It is not illegal to recycle an aluminum can in MI if you bought it in another state. It is illegal to collect the deposit because the deposit was never payed on the out-of-state can.


28 posted on 09/28/2007 12:31:21 PM PDT by mouske
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To: Yo-Yo
So I CAN'T redeem my out-of-state can, even though it says right on the can that it is eligible for a 10-cent Michigan refund? I can only get the refund if I've paid the deposit?

If that's the case, then cans bought out of state should be littering Michigan's landscape by the barrel full.

29 posted on 09/28/2007 12:33:45 PM PDT by IronJack (=)
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To: N. Theknow

“My next door neighbor used to drink a case of Michelob a day bought in RI with no deposit and redeemed in CT or MA for the nickles.”

A case a day? When did he find time to redeem them?


30 posted on 09/28/2007 12:34:27 PM PDT by Bruinator
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To: N. Theknow
My next door neighbor used to drink a case of Michelob a day bought in RI with no deposit and redeemed in CT or MA

He drank a case of beer a day and still was able to drive? Who's your neighbor? Billy Carter?

31 posted on 09/28/2007 12:35:11 PM PDT by Rokurota (.)
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To: nuconvert
I will tell you all this. I lived here in Michigan BEFORE the bottle deposit law. I was against it.

But the beaches, highways,and parks were filthy with discarded cans and bottles. It really was a mess.

If nothing else, the bottle deposit law has served to really clean up these areas. Now I would vote for it. If you don't live here, don't rail about it.

Perhaps a dime is too much, but the fact is, it works.

32 posted on 09/28/2007 12:35:41 PM PDT by drc43 (Defeat is within our grasp... Nancy Pelosi)
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To: ozzymandus

“It’s illegal to recycle a frigging aluminum can in MI if you bought it in another state??”

It is not illegal to recycle aluminum cans in MI. What is illegal is claiming the deposit refund if you have not paid it.

That said, it is almost impossible to enforce that law unless the violators are stupid or incredibly greedy. Get a couple of hundred a year by bringing cans from out of state and claiming them $5 to $10 a week, and it is impossible to catch you. Get involved in a scheme dealing in $100Ks of dollars and multiple people in the conspiracy and you are begging to be caught.

After all, as a founding father once observed three can keep a secret if two are dead.

Not that I would admit to skiting on refunds — at least within the statute of limitations. Now back in the 1980s when I was visiting my parents in Michigan we discovered we could collect the Michigan can deposit on a bag of pop cans empties we had brought up from Texas in the van we drove to Michigan (we were hanging on to the pop cans we brought up with us to recycle them in TX at 25 cents/per pound, but) . . . .

Not that there is anything wrong with that.


33 posted on 09/28/2007 12:36:08 PM PDT by No Truce With Kings (The opinions expressed are mine! Mine! MINE! All Mine!)
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To: bmwcyle

Ping.


34 posted on 09/28/2007 12:36:42 PM PDT by Apple Blossom (...around here, city hall is something of a between meals snack.)
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To: mouske

I don’t know how this works. Do you have to pay an extra 10 cents every time you buy a can of pop in MI? Do you have to take the can to the store where you bought it to get the “deposit” back? What about pop machines? Where do you take those cans? And how do they know where you bought the can? This is way too complicated for an empty aluminum can.


35 posted on 09/28/2007 12:40:14 PM PDT by ozzymandus
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To: drc43
Let me further add that because of the dime deposit, I suspect this gives bottles and cans enough value, that it is common to see folks along the road LOOKING for them to pick up.

And I bet a lot of these are tossed by out of staters.

Anyhow the roads really look better.

36 posted on 09/28/2007 12:40:17 PM PDT by drc43 (Defeat is within our grasp... Nancy Pelosi)
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To: N. Theknow

Considering that there is a free donut in every bottle of Michelob, your neighbor must be a fat bastard.

This scam only works if you have a free Postal Service truck to transport the cans. Otherwise it’s not cost effective.


37 posted on 09/28/2007 12:42:12 PM PDT by massgopguy (I owe everything to George Bailey)
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To: Apple Blossom

Yes we smuggled to two six packs of diet soda.


38 posted on 09/28/2007 12:42:52 PM PDT by bmwcyle (BOMB, BOMB, BOMB,.......BOMB, BOMB IRAN)
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To: IronJack
So I CAN'T redeem my out-of-state can, even though it says right on the can that it is eligible for a 10-cent Michigan refund? I can only get the refund if I've paid the deposit?

That's sort of the idea with a deposit *refund*, isn't it?

If it says right on the can that it is eligible for a Michigan Deposit, then there is no way to PROVE you're commiting fraud. However, if you buy a can in a no-deposit state, it will NOT say it is eligible for deposit on the can.

That is where the Seinfeld thing comes into play. The cans they get DO say they are eligible for five cents in NY, and ten cents in MI. Buy a can in IN and it says NOTHING on the can. THAT will get you busted if you get caught returning it for a deposit refund.

39 posted on 09/28/2007 12:46:47 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: PeterPrinciple
Maybe michigan will learn their lesson and raise the deposit to $.20 to cover all the fraud.

LOL You forgot the /s tag.

40 posted on 09/28/2007 12:48:39 PM PDT by pierrem15 (Charles Martel: past and future of France)
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To: Yo-Yo

Let’s see:

1. Something that someone pays 10 cents a pound for is worth 10 cents a pound, even if that someone is the STUPID governmnt of Michigan.

2. You seem to be under the impression that aluminium cans come with a passport or something. Aluminium is a commodity and does not have a locality attached to it.


41 posted on 09/28/2007 12:48:46 PM PDT by JLS
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To: IronJack
Is there a specific law that prohibits this endeavor?

Mark my words if there isn't there will be by Monday.

42 posted on 09/28/2007 12:51:36 PM PDT by ninonitti
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To: ozzymandus
I don’t know how this works. Do you have to pay an extra 10 cents every time you buy a can of pop in MI?

Yes.

Do you have to take the can to the store where you bought it to get the “deposit” back?

No, but you must take it to a store that sells that brand. For example, you cannot redeem "Sam's Choice" cans at Kroger.

What about pop machines? Where do you take those cans?

To any store that sells that brand.

And how do they know where you bought the can?

If you buy the can in Michigan it will say "ME-VT-CT-MA-NY-OR-IA 5 Cents, MI 10 Cents, CA Cash Refund."

This is way too complicated for an empty aluminum can.

It's been working for 30 years here, and it has kept the roadsides clean. Searching for discarded pop cans and bottles gives our homeless something to do.

43 posted on 09/28/2007 12:52:15 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: Slings and Arrows

The crimefighters in Michigan are on the job.


44 posted on 09/28/2007 12:53:18 PM PDT by Kevmo (We should withdraw from Iraq via Tehran. And Duncan Hunter is just the man to get that job done.)
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To: Yo-Yo
It's been working for 30 years here, and it has kept the roadsides clean.

Detroit looks like a toilet, but by gum, the roadsides are clean.

45 posted on 09/28/2007 12:54:41 PM PDT by dfwgator (The University of Florida - Still Championship U)
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To: All

$500,000 !

They had 1/2 million on used cans!


46 posted on 09/28/2007 12:56:30 PM PDT by longtermmemmory (VOTE! http://www.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov)
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To: Yo-Yo
Its not a recycling program buying aluminum in bulk. It is the administration of a ten cents per can deposit program that has been in effect in Michigan since 1976.

So in effect it's not even a deposit program but a sin tax on purchasers of canned and bottle drinks. A revenue stream for big gubment to wallow in.

47 posted on 09/28/2007 12:57:42 PM PDT by ninonitti
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To: varyouga
There’s no notice that you can’t use out of state cans anywhere. I can’t believe there is an actual law against this.

If the cans are identical I'd demand they prove the cans weren't bought there. How the hell can they possibly do that?

48 posted on 09/28/2007 12:57:57 PM PDT by BearCub
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To: JLS
Let’s see:

1. Something that someone pays 10 cents a pound for is worth 10 cents a pound, even if that someone is the STUPID governmnt of Michigan.

Let's see. It's not ten cents a pound, it is ten cents a can. Ten cents that has theoretically been collected at the time of sale, and theoretically returned at the time of redemption. If the deposit was never paid, then redeeming that deposit is fraud and is illegal.

2. You seem to be under the impression that aluminium cans come with a passport or something. Aluminium is a commodity and does not have a locality attached to it.

You seem to be under the impression that the State of Michigan is paying all comers for whatever aluminum they happen to bring along, be it cans, used foil, or a 747 wing.

As a matter of fact, cans eligible for deposit redemption does come with a passport of sorts. It is stamped right on the can if it is eligible for the deposit program. Cans bought in states without a deposit program do not have that stamp. Redeeming cans without a stamp is fraud.

We aren't talking about bags of shredded Boeing 747s here. Stores crush the cans they have redeemed to reduce the storage bulk, then return those bags to the state, who weigh the bags of crushed cans to determine the count inside the bags. That's all. Not too hard to comprehend.

This group had someone on the inside of a store to accept bags of crushed cans, who then turned them into the State for reimbursement, which is commiting fraud.

The State does NOT accept bags of crushed cans from the general public, only from retailers.

Clearer now?

49 posted on 09/28/2007 1:05:30 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (USAF, TAC, 12th AF, 366 TFW, 366 MG, 366 CRS, Mtn Home AFB, 1978-81)
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To: drc43

So, of course Michigan will now discard these millions of cans since it doesn’t belong there. I wonder where the state of Michigan will dispose of them? After all, they will get their half million back.


50 posted on 09/28/2007 1:08:34 PM PDT by BerryDingle (Illegitimi Non Carborundum)
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