ALFRED — The owner of a New Hampshire sports complex was sentenced to 72 hours in jail for his role in a large-scale bottle redemption fraud scheme.

Dennis Reed, 67, pleaded guilty in York County Superior Court to nine counts of Class E theft and one count of Class D theft. Class D and E crimes are the least serious categories of offenses.

Reed, the owner of the SportsZone, in Derry, N.H., was also ordered to pay a $10,000 civil penalty.

Authorities say Reed was caught making an after-hours delivery of thousands of containers from New Hampshire to Green Bee Redemption in Kittery on March 18, 2010. The aim, authorities say, was to collect the five-cent refund from Maine bottle distributors even though the containers were not eligible. New Hampshire does not charge deposits on containers sold there.

Reed obtained more than $4,400 in fraudulent redemption of New Hampshire containers between April 2008 and February 2010, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

In August, Thomas Woodward, one of the operators of Green Bee Redemption, was convicted on a charge of theft by deception for stealing more than $10,000 in refunds on out-of-state containers. He was sentenced to 21 days in jail and is free on bail pending appeal to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

His wife, Megan, was acquitted on the charge.

Industry experts suspect that fraud accounts for at least 10 percent of redeemed containers, according to the Maine Beverage Association. With local bottlers paying a five-cent deposit and as much as four cents in handling fees to redemption centers, fraud is estimated to cost $8 million a year, not including the pickup and handling costs of fraudulent containers, according to the organization.

“We believe bottle bill fraud is rampant and that it is costing beverage companies, and ultimately Maine consumers, millions of dollars a year in added costs,” Newell Augur, the association’s director, said in a statement.


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