Seinfeld-inspired ‘Michigan bottle deposit scam’ lands Kramer wannabe in hot water

Michigan offers a 10 cent refund on each returned bottle over 24 ounces. © Erik de Castro
Brian Edward Everidge had a good plan. He solved the truck problem, lowering his "G&A by 50 percent", and he didn’t even have to do it on Mother’s Day.

Following in the footsteps of Seinfeld characters Kramer and Newman, Everidge tried to import thousands of empty bottles to Michigan and cash in on the state’s generous 10-cents deposit scheme.

However, instead of driving all the way from New York, he’s a Michigan native who drove out of the state to pick up his contraband.

While returning a bottle over 24 ounces bought in Michigan gains recyclers a dime, bringing in bottles from anywhere else that were not charged the deposit at the point of purchase can earn someone a ‘nickel upstate’ (slang for 5 years in prison).

Most other states only give back five cents, so schemers who want to double their money have often tried to crunch the numbers, sometimes driving themselves crazy.

What about an 18-wheeler, you say? “No, an 18-wheeler’s no good. Too much overhead. You got permits, weigh stations, tolls,” a wise man once said. Plus, "you overload your inventory and you blow your margins on gasoline. Trust me, it doesn't work."

Somehow, Everidge managed to get a good deal on a rental vehicle that managed to hold 10,000 bottles, but alas, he was way out of his league.

The 44-year-old man was pulled over for speeding on April 27 by a highway patrol officer who discovered his stash of glass, according to the Livingston Daily.

It’s not known if he was chasing an irate mechanic in a Saab convertible throwing JFK’s golf clubs at him.

Everidge’s scheme takes inspiration from a 20-year-old episode of "Seinfeld" in which Newman hatches a similarly flawed plan.

Even though he ended up losing his money, Newman managed to escape capture.

The real-life Everidge was not so lucky and will appear in court next week for allegedly violating the Michigan Beverage Containers Act law and faces up to five years in prison for possessing more than 10,000 bottles.

While Kramer's "reverse peephole idea" also failed, the state "reverse vending machines", introduced in 2011 to scan barcodes and ensure the bottle is eligible for refund, proved to be more successful.

It's not clear how Everidge planned to get around this, but even if he went to the few stores that still handle refunds manually, a $25 cap on deposits per person per day would take him 40 days to return them all, or trips to 40 different recyclers.

Operation Can Scam was set up by Michigan police in 2007 after it was calculated that fraud of the 10 cents system was costing the state $13 million per year.

Two Ohio-based syndicates were uncovered as part of the operation.