Columbus Air Conditioner Thief Convicted Under Federal Clean Air Act


A man who cut tubing on air conditioning units he was stealing violated the Clean Air Act.

Martin C. Eldridge, 35, pleaded guilty to stealing more than 49 air conditioning units in 2013. He sold the copper in the units to scrap yards.

According to prosecutors, Eldridge would cut tubing which caused refrigerant HCFC-22 in the units to be released into the atmosphere.

The refrigerant is regulated under the Clean Air Act because it poses a significant threat to the Earth’s ozone layer, according to court documents.

Eldridge pleaded guilty to one count of venting HCFC. He will serve 31 months in a federal prison. That sentence will be served concurrent with other charges. Those include Theft, Failure to Appear and Aggravated Drug Possession.

A judge will sentence him for those charges in August. He could get a maximum of five years in prison.