Industry warns contractors to be on the look out for illegal refrigeration sales.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Roger Whitaker, a former refrigerant distributor, has pleaded guilty to illegally selling and obtaining a variety of refrigerants. In Kentucky's Jefferson Circuit Court, the man pleaded to criminal syndication and dozens of counts of theft for leading a black-market ring that saw the distribution of more than 10 tons of stolen refrigerant.

Whitaker has already agreed to a 10-year prison sentence without parole. As part of his plea, Whitaker must testify against those who obtained the refrigerant. About a dozen individuals, including ex-employees of contracting companies, were part of the ring.

According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the trials are expected to take place over the next several months. The investigation involved the Jefferson County Police, the commonwealth's attorney's office, Environmental Protection Agency and the FBI.

Ed Dooley, vice president of communications for the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, said the incident should serve as a warning to other contractors.

"Contractors purchasing refrigerant should be wary about the source if the price seems too good to be true," Dooley said.