The owner and president of the North Hills-based I & Joy Bagels chain have been charged with more than 20 felony counts each of illegal dumping of hazardous wastes in connection with a metal-plating firm they once ran, the Los Angeles city attorney's office said Thursday.
Allan Boren, owner and chairman of I & Joy, and Eric Cano, president of the 16-store bagel chain, were charged Wednesday with felony counts of dumping in connection with Chatsworth Plating, a company the men ran until they got into the bagel business, officials said.
Boren bought I & Joy from founder Irving Marks in 1992. Cano, a high school friend of Boren's and general manager of the plating firm, was hired by Boren when he bought the bagel chain.
Following an investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department, the firm was charged with dumping cyanide, cadmium, chromium and zinc into storm drains and onto the ground.
Boren was arrested Wednesday and released on $20,000 bail. Cano turned himself in and was freed on his own recognizance.
If convicted, the men face up to three years in prison and fines of up to $100,000 for each of the felony dumping counts, said Supervising Atty. Vince Sato of the city attorney's environmental protection section. In addition, the men face fines of up to $25,000 for each polluting of a water source charge, Sato said.
The men will be arraigned Aug. 3.
A former employee of the plating firm, who asked that his name not be used, said the dumping charges were related to earthquake damages at an abandoned building that was a part of the plating shop. The building contained chemicals used during the plating process, the employee said.
Attorneys for Cano and Boren could not be reached for comment.
The charges come as the I & Joy executives plan for a rapid expansion after their recent acquisition by Manhattan Bagel Co. of New Jersey. The company is the only publicly traded bagel concern on the Nasdaq. In a public offering last year, the company's stock sold at $5, and has traded as high as $16, according to analysts. Earlier this week, the stock traded at around $14.25.