Two guys drive from New York with thousands of used cans and bottles to cash in on Michigan's 10-cent return for each container, tops in the nation.
It's a familiar scenario for "Seinfeld" buffs, who watched Kramer and Newman botch such a run in a 1996 episode of the NBC sitcom. Two New Yorkers apparently thought they could accomplish what the TV duo couldn't.John Mocombe, 28, and Adam Ilnickij, 46, were arraigned Thursday on felony counts of false pretenses over $100. They were being held in the Macomb County Jail and face up to 10 years in jail and a $5,000 fine if convicted.
They were arrested after allegedly feeding a bottle return machine for about three hours Wednesday night. The machines accept certain cans or bottles and print out receipts redeemable at grocery checkout stands.
The law requires the containers to be from Michigan, though the machines apparently don't differentiate.
Police said the containers they recovered from the New Yorkers were marked for deposit by other states or had no marking. They said the men had already cashed in or had receipts saved worth about $800 - some 8,000 containers.
A search of their 10-foot moving van (Kramer and Newman had a mail truck) found 35 giant trash bags of bottles and cans, police said.
Ilnickij told police that he and his friends buy empty cans from New York City's homeless at 5 cents for two containers. Michigan's bottle-return rate - offered as a recycling incentive - is twice that of any other state.
Law enforcement officials said they suspect the men have been trucking in containers since July 31, when Mocombe rented the van.