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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Valley man sentenced for scrap metal scheme

Business owner must forfeit $1.55 million in cash, property, but avoids prison

A Spokane Valley businessman, who converted scrap metal stolen by drug addicts into a cash fortune and a stable of exotic sports cars before being raided by the FBI, was ordered Thursday to forfeit $1.55 million as part of an agreement that avoids prison time.

Craig A. Dickson, 46, received a sentence of four years of probation, including one year of home confinement, at a sentencing hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Edward Shea.

Dickson, owner of Dickson Iron and Metal, 907 N. Dyer Road, pleaded guilty in December to seven counts of structuring financial transactions to avoid reporting requirements and one count of conspiracy to commit the same offense. Authorities say he essentially laundered stolen scrap metal for desperate thieves and tried to keep the transactions hidden.

“I’m sorry for any harm my actions caused anybody,” Dickson told Shea. “I can guarantee that it won’t happen again.”

As part of the plea, Dickson agreed to forfeit the cash, property in Montana and Spokane County, and several cars, including a 1974 Alfa Romeo convertible, a Porsche 356 Coupe, a 2008 BMW 358, a 2007 Chevy Corvette, a 2005 Toyota MR2 Spyder convertible and a 2006 Lexus GS 430.

The case started in December 2008 when agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service and local law enforcement began investigating a suspected money-laundering scheme involving stolen metals, including copper from commercial-grade wire, according to court records.

“Stealing copper wire and other components from cellular towers, telephone lines, electrical substations and even vacant homes, has become a lucrative activity for organized groups and drug addicts over the past few years,” the plea agreement states.

After purchasing stolen metal and commercial-grade wire, Dickson Iron and Metal would ship the metals to recycling companies in Western Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

The recyclers would send checks back to Dickson Iron and Metal, which were deposited in $9,000 increments to avoid the $10,000 threshold that triggers a report to the IRS, according to court records written by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Aine Ahmed and Timothy Durkin.

Dickson and co-defendant Tyson Schott, 35, who manages the company and is Dickson’s nephew, used the money to purchase homes, vehicles and boats, according to the plea agreement. Schott also received the same one year of home confinement and four years probation.

Both men will be able to continue to work for the company. The judge called it a “just sentence.”

“For a man who has the reputation you have had, to stand in front of your friends and say I have committed a crime and am now a felon … you have suffered what your activities have caused,” Shea said to Dickson.

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