Hazardous Waste Dumpers Plead Guilty

For Immediate Release
October 2nd, 2001

Contact: DDA Nick Thompson (714) 347-8714

Hazardous Waste Dumpers Plead Guilty

SANTA ANA – Two men who manufacture circuit boards pleaded guilty today to a felony count of dumping copper and acid waste into the sewer. Their corporation also entered a guilty plea to two counts through an attorney.

Nandell Patel (DOB 6-1-62) of Cerritos and Vijay Merchant (DOB 2-17-48) of Mission Viejo are scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 16 in the Central Justice Center of Superior Court. Two other defendants, Rajesh Kumbhani (DOB 9-10-66) of Cerritos and Savji Kumbhani (DOB 6-1-62) of Buena Park, each pleaded guilty to a felony count of being an accessory to the crime.

All the men work for Golden West Circuits, 624 N. Poinsettia St., Santa Ana. Merchant is the company president, Patel is responsible for the processing and handling of waste generated by the business and the Kumbhani cousins are responsible for the day-to-day activities of the company.

Merchant and Patel were charged on May 17 following a joint investigation by the District Attorney Environmental Protection Unit, the Orange County Sanitation District and the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The defendants came to the attention of Sanitation District investigators three years ago when they were repeatedly fined for dumping heavy metals and cyanide into the sewer from their business, which was then located in Huntington Beach. When hazardous waste gets into the sewer, it could destroy microogranisms that neutralize raw sewage, resulting in the chemicals and sewage running unchecked into the ocean.

Late last year Golden West Circuits moved to Santa Ana without notifying an investigator from the Sanitation District who had been monitoring the business. This caused the investigator to become suspicious and begin underground tests at the new location. When hazardous waste was found, the DA’s Office was notified and a criminal investigation began.

A search warrant was served on the business on May 10. Investigators seized records and chemical supplies and found a pump mechanism that was hooked up to the toilet for disposal of the hazardous waste.