"What are criminal gangs but petty kingdoms?
"A gang is a group of men under the command of a leader, bound by a compact of association, in which the plunder is divided according to an agreed convention. If this villainy wins so many recruits that it acquires territory, establishes a base, captures cities and subdues people, it then openly arrogates to itself the title of kingdom, which is conferred on it in the eyes of the world, not by the renouncement of aggression but by the attainment of impunity."
-- The City of God
Special acknowledgement is due the following for their contributions to this report:
Maurice Hinchey, Chairman
Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee
July 15, 1987
The New York State Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee has long been concerned with the growing threat to the environment caused by the illegal disposal of hazardous and solid wastes. It has also noted that an ironic consequence of the development of environmental laws to control pollution has been the creation of a new era of opportunity for those who do not demur at criminal behavior if it guarantees easy profits. There is a substantial body of evidence that organized crime controls much of the solid waste disposal industry in New York State and elsewhere. There is also evidence that the criminal activity is not confined entirely to organized crime, but is also engaged in by other unscrupulous entrepreneurs; and that there have also been instances of multinational corporations not hesitating to jeopardize public health and safety.
Official documents are available, including the congressional hearings on Organized Crime Links to the Waste Disposal Industry, held in 1980 and 1981, which suggest the extent to which organized crime has become imbedded in the waste disposal industry.
Much earlier, of course, there were the United States Senate Committee Hearings under Senator John McClellan in 1957, which probed deeply into the extent of criminal infiltration of the garbage disposal industry. In 1981 a New York State Assembly task force held a public hearing that raised some important questions. The State Senate Select Committee on Crime, under the chairmanship of Senator Ralph Marino, has also done productive probing.
In the fall of 1984, the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee held its own hearings on the subject, recognizing that more needed to be done, both in the way of enforcement and new legislative initiatives, if the problem is to be brought effectively under control.
As our hearings progressed we came to realize the need for a systematic summarization of the accumulated information that had been gathered over the years -- not only through official investigations (our own as well as those of others) but through the diligence of the news media. Even more important, in our minds, was the need to analyze the sprawling mass of data and disentangle the essential from the nonessential. The objective has been to produce an accurate assessment of the waste disposal industry and the extend of criminal activity within it, as well as to discuss policy alternatives needed to correct the problems.
In the course of preparing this report a wide range of activities in the waste hauling industry were investigated by this committee over a period of nearly two years. In order to focus public attention on the problem we have narrowed the discussion to those case histories that best illustrate the kinds of problems that need correction. The focus is on New York City, Long Island and the Mid-Hudson Valley.
Each study section of this report illustrates one or more of the key aspects of the hazardous and solid waste disposal problem as it affects New York State. At the end of each section there is a staff review of the case history discussed.
While it is hoped that the report will be of particular usefulness to those who are experts in the field, we have also tried to make it readily accessible to the general reader by providing essential definitions and background information.
Because some of those using this report will appreciate further information than contained in the text, we have tried to be generous in the use of references so that those who wish can trace the complex web of interrelationships beyond the boundaries of the situations described. Unscrambling the elements in a business conspiracy can be similar to solving a jigsaw puzzle, and one never knows when an apparently irrelevant piece of information can suddenly complete the picture for those who already have other parts of the puzzle.
In this connection the fold-out chart included with the report should be invaluable to those who are interested in tracing the interrelationships of the various companies and individuals, some of whom, at one time of another, were found guilty of violations of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL) and other laws. The chart should, of course, be used in conjunction with the text.
Appendix A and Appendix B provide important background materials. Appendix A contains what is hoped will be a useful compendium of the environmental enforcement tools now available for combatting the problem of illegal disposal of solid and hazardous wastes. Appendix B provides a glossary of many of the terms most frequently referred to in the literature on this subject. For the convenience of the reader, subjects receiving further discussion in the appendices are marked with an asterisk (*) the first time they occur in the text.
A summary report, to be released at a later date, will expand on suggestions contained in this report and will include legislative proposals for dealing with the problem.
|Criminal Infiltration of the Hazardous and Solid Waste Disposal Industry in New York State||1|
|La Cosa Nostra (LCN) in a Nutshell||7|
|Snatches of Conversation in a Bugged Jaguar||8|
|The Structure of Racketeering in the Solid and Hazardous Waste Hauling Industry||11|
|Harold Kaufman: Portrait of an Informer||15|
|ONE||The Yonkers Story: Mob Pressure on Local Government||17|
|La Cosa Nostra: The Rules of the Game||31|
|TWO||Border War: The Mob Moves in from New Jersey||33|
|Two Portraits from Harold Kaufman's Album of Strange Bedfellows||41|
|THREE||Al Turi Landfill: State of What Art?||43|
|James Fratianno, Former LCN Capo, Under Federal Witness Protection Program, Talks to the President's Crime Commission||49|
|FOUR||Alfed DeMarco and Thomas Milo: Family Connections||51|
|FIVE||The Fiorillos and the Poughkeepsie and Platekill Landfills||57|
|Consent Agreements and Consent Decrees: An Opinion||69|
|SIX||Kessman's Landfill: A Law Enforcement Dilemma, Flawed Case Teaches Important Lesson||71|
|Louis Mongelli and His Family Connections||76|
|SEVEN||Mongelli: Penaluna and All County -- Pollution of Water Supplies||77|
|Penaluna Landfill As Seen by the Caretaker||78|
|EIGHT||Russell Mahler: Barely Punished in Three States||87|
|The Solid Waste Cocktail||88|
|Postscript: EPA Hires Felon Convicted of Hazadous Waste Violations in Three States||95|
|NINE||The Gaess Brothers: More Complex Operations||97|
|Extracts from a Memor from Paul A. Rubin, Hydrogeologist, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, on Groundwater Contamination Adjacent to Cortese Landfill, October 1, 1985||99|
|TEN||Corporate Giants in Carting: Good or Bad?||105|
|From the Desk of...||110|
|ELEVEN||Long Island's Problems||111|
|What Can Happen to a Well-Educated Gentleman Who Feels He Can Make a Good Living for Himself and His Family by Going Into Business for Himself||115|
|TWELVE||Garbage Disposal in New York City: A Classic Case Illustrating a Mature Conspiracy||117|
|A||Solid and Hazardous Waste Management: The Legal Framework and the Role of Enforcement||131|
|B||An Informal but Authoritative Glossary||149|
|C||Results of Leachate Analysus, F.I.C.A. Landfill||155|
There is overwhelming evidence, accumulated over the past 30 years, that organized crime is a dominating presence in the solid waste disposal industry in New York State as well as other parts of the country. However, there is some disagreement as to the extent to which organized crime has infiltrated the hazardous waste hauling industry.
A principal purpose of this report was to investigate the extent to which organized crime controls the waste hauling industry in New York State. It carries forward the findings of the 1980 House of Representatives hearing on the involvement of organized crime in the hazardous waste disposal industry in New Jersey and demonstrates that organized crime's activities since then have not abated but actually increased, despite governments increasing concern over the threats to the health and safety of the public posed by such activities.
In the fall of 1984 this committee's hearings, held in New York City and Goshen, New York, made it clear that organized crime was seeking to increase its grip on the hazardous as well as solid waste hauling industry in New York State by extending its activities beyond its traditional strongholds in metropolitan New York, Long Island and Westchester into the Mid-Hudson region and beyond.
This report presents an overview of the situation as it exists today, reviews the effectiveness of existing legislation and evaluates the performance of those agencies entrusted with the responsibility for seeing to it that the laws are obeyed and that public health and safety are not jeopardized. It also provides a basis for developing appropriate recommendations for resolving the problem.
No matter what industry organized crime infiltrates, it not only threatens the integrity of that industry but it inflicts economic loss on society and tends to corrupt it. Organized crime has played a role in many industries -- gambling, banking, clothing, trucking, dry cleaning, cutlery sharpening, restaurant and bar businesses, real estate, meat packing, kosher food products, and vending machines -- to mention only a few. Through its involvement in almost all of these activities there runs the common thread of intimidation, violence and even murder.
The devastating effect organized crime's involvement in the solid and hazardous waste hauling industry can have on the environment is only one part of the problem. The other part is the threat to society contained in its ruthless methods and the economic waste it causes through its restraint of trade, price-gouging and bid-rigging practices.
In dealing with organized crime's involvement in the solid and hazardous waste hauling businesses, this committee has had to consider the effectiveness of current laws
and regulations in meeting today's increasingly stringent environmental standards. That is an important part of our responsibility. But we also have had to consider the pernicious influence organized crime figures can exert simply by being involved in the industry, even if in some instances they abide by existing environmental regulations. This report documents both aspects of the problem.
Environmental pollution was not created by organized crime. The story of pollution involves many villains, but a consid- erable amount of the environmental damage that has been done to our planet is simply the result of ignorant, underregulated or careless industrial activity. Much of the environmental crime about which we are concerned today was not a crime 30 years ago; and even the most sophisticated of us sometimes wince to think of what we once considered environmentally acceptable.
The rising stream of dangerous industrial wastes brought on by the rapid develop- ment of industrial technology in the latter half of the 19th century had already reached flood proportions by the end of World War II, when the United States was producing one billion pounds of such wastes each year. But less than 40 years later that amount seemed insignificant when compared with the 125 billion pounds being added to the hazardous waste stream in 1980.
Among the over 50,000 substances listed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as posing a potential hazard to human health are some of the most dangerous chemicals known to man. They can produce cancers, birth defects and genetic changes in animals and humans, as well as acute poisoning and a variety of respiratory, genitourinary and skin disorders.
The threat to America's health posed by the leaching of toxic and hazardous wastes from a conservatively estimated 75,000 industrial and 15,000 municipal landfills cannot be easily dismissed. Such leachates have already contaminated public and private water supplies throughout the nation. And once an underground aquifer becomes polluted it is often virtually impossible to undo the damage. Such wastes can eventually enter the food chain, first by being absorbed by plants and animals, and finally affecting humans; or by direct contact with humans, as at Love Canal, where the chemical wastes produced as a result of World War II seeped years later into the homes of a residential community, creating a human crisis that shocked the nation.
These dangerous wastes are part of the price we are paying for the rapid development of industrial technology over the past 100 years. Fortunately, a concurrent increase in the sophistication of our scientific procedures has enabled us to detect health- threatening causal relationships that in a more innocent time went undetected. The industries and chemical companies, which have been largely responsible for the contamination, contend that it is only with the benefit of hindsight that we can criticize them for the immense problems to which they unwittingly contributed. There is some truth in this. As a society, we are not only in the process of compiling a new body of law, we are also defining whole new areas of environmental crime. Nevertheless, many of these industries had long been aware of the dangers their manufacturing operations posed, and some of them deliberately withhold information from the health authorities and related law enforcement agencies. In some cases the United States government was party to the deception.
The development of legislation to contain the threat from environmental pollution has not been as fast as many 'would have liked, but it will be worthwhile to review the extent of the change in public attitudes over the past 20 years.
It is hard to believe today that it was not until the 1970s that hazardous wastes were officially recognized as a health or environmental problem in this country. The 1970 Report of the Council on Environmental Quality contained no mention of hazardous wastes, nor did the federal EPA, which came into being that same year, make any reference to it. Congress had passed the Solid Waste Disposal Act in 1965, but this was concerned basically with funding for planning and research. It was not until 1976 that the Toxic Substance Control Act was passed, which allowed the federal government to regulate the manufacture and distribu- tion of new chemicals that have a potential to harm the environment or public health. The agency was given the authority to prohibit the use of chemicals suspected or proved to be dangerous and to regulate the thousands of chemicals already in use, as well as prevent the introduction of new substances if they were shown to be dangerous.
About the same time that Congress passed the Toxic Substance Control Act it also developed standards for air quality. When the 1970 Clean Air Act was passed by Congress, New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), created that same year, was given the responsibility of seeing that this State met federal standards.
It was not until 1976 that the federal government enacted the Resource Conserva- tion and Recovery Act (RCRA*), which addressed, among other things, the regulation of hazardous waste management. Its provisions allowed the EPA to authorize states to conduct hazardous waste regulatory programs equivalent to the federal program. How- ever, the important manifest system, which was part of RCRA, was not put in place until 1980.
New York State had enacted legislation that permitted DEC to issue regulations regarding refuse disposal and municipal incinerators as early as September 1973. These regulations were revised in 1978 and again in 1981, 1982 and 1985 in a manner consistent with changes made in federal regulations.
The federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA*), commonly known as the Superfund, was also passed in 1980 to pay for the costs of cleaning up releases of hazardous substances.
However, these federal statutes have not been rigorously enforced, particularly under the Reagan Administration.
In Appendix A there will be found summaries of the various pertinent federal and New York State initiatives.
Historically, industry has not played a leadership role in protecting the environment. Even after more than a century of intense debate on the subject, it still is reluctant to undertake additional environmental precautions unless it views the evidence as overwhelming that such precautions are necessary. This reluctance has been expressed in many ways:
Despite this reluctance, however, most large corporations generally express their resistance in lawful ways, and in some instances they have actually taken the lead in developing environmentally desirable changes in the way their industries operate. Very often it is the marginal firms, seeking to eke out a profit, that are more likely to take the risks involved in breaking the law.
Huge, multinational corporations are, however, sometimes far wealthier than some of the countries in which they operate, and their ability to break the law with impunity and corrupt the political process has been frequently noted. Even during the few short months during which this report was being prepared several glaring examples of corporate misconduct were subject to media attention. Hardly a week goes by without the financial pages of the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal carrying at least one story about another instance of corporate criminal activity. Some of these activities are commonly thought of as being exclusively the province of organized crime, but that, unfortunately, is not the case. The recent admission by chicken tycoon, Frank Perdue, that he sought the help of the organized crime boss Paul Castellano, 1 who was murdered gangland fashion in 1985, warns us of the darker aspects corporate activity sometimes can take on. On the other hand, Consolidated Edison's determination not to acquiesce in a "property rights"* contract sought by an organized crime carting company (see page 53) displays the kind of integrity that is welcome in an American corporation.
There is another class of individuals, moreover, for whom risk-taking is particularly attractive wherever a potential for great profits exists. One such entrepreneur was Russell Mahler, who was sentenced to six months in prison and five years probation and ordered to pay New York City over $500,000 in restitution, as well as a fine of $10,000. He began his career as a waste-oil scavenger, operating within the law. He ended it convicted in three states of crimes that may have endangered the health and safety of millions of people and that ravaged the environment all along the Eastern seaboard. His activities, which are described in detail in this report, were not, so far as has been discovered, linked to organized crime families. In any case, he was able to see the possibility of quick and easy profits in an area where the rules were not fully developed and also not adequately enforced.
ORGANIZED CRIME'S PRESENCE
-- KNOWING HOW TO RECOGNIZE IT
The section beginning on on page 11 (The Structure of Racketeering) provides a benchmark for testing the several case histories included in this report. It is
based on various studies that have been made on organized crime, including the recent hearings of the Presidents Commission on Organized Crime.
Organized crime continues to dominate the waste hauling industry, not only in metropolitan New York, Long Island and Westchester, but has increased its operations in Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Dutchess counties. Those communities are now being confronted with the burden of shouldering the enormous, increasing social and economic costs exacted by racketeering. New inroads are being made into Ulster, Columbia and Greene counties.
Organized crime has infiltrated a wide variety of legitimate businesses, but the waste hauling industry is particularly susceptible to the tactics that organized crime employs. Moreover, the fact that the individual carting concerns were originally small, family operations, largely of the same ethnic origins, closely knit and struggling to make a living in an occupation that was looked down on by the general public, made it easy for them to accept the "property rights" system as a means of protecting their livelihood.
When the nation began to become more sensitive to environmental issues in the 1970s and laws were enacted to curb the indiscriminate dumping of toxic and hazardous wastes, it was natural for solid waste haulers to become involved in this business also. Unfortunately, the opportunities for windfall profits by disposing of the wastes illegally created new opportunities for organized crime. It also provided them with the added advantages that go with monopoly control, not only through domination of the carting of the wastes, but also through ownership and operation of the waste disposal facilities.
Government has not been inactive. Much new legislation has been enacted at both the state and federal levels, but the new laws are not completely adequate because they were designed to fit a social context in which the lawbreaker is the exception rather than the rule. What was not recognized is that a conspiracy was already in place that, if left unchallenged, could effectively destroy the nation's efforts to solve the solid and hazardous waste disposal problem. The facts and interrelationships disclosed in the accompanying report suggest strongly that there already exists an organized crime network, if not directed by one individual or family, at least sufficiently coordinated so that the network functions as a classical conspiracy.
This conspiracy has now become so basic a functional part of the waste hauling industry that it will not be uprooted unless, first, the public is taught to recognize the pervasiveness and seriousness of the problem, and secondly, government is prepared to make the necessary commitment in terms of funding and effective laws and regulations.
Wherever there are governmental regulations there never will be sufficient resources to guarantee 100 percent compliance with those regulations. However, the right combination of programs, by changing society's basic attitudes, can deprive criminal activity of the permissive climate in which it so readily flourishes.
That combination of programs should include:
These programs will be discussed in detail and placed in public policy perspective in a subsequent volume dealing with recommendations.
LA COSA NOSTRA (LCN)
Salvatore Avellino, "made" LCN member, chauffeur to Anthony Corallo, boss of the Lucchese Crime family, as he detects their car is being tailed by law enforcement: They're right behind us now, they figure you running some big, big enterprises right now. That's what it is. You know, with the garbage, and with an . . . and with the incinerators now, and ah . . . with all that shit. Incineration is big thing with us, the thing of the future. They figure that you got it, you control it.
Corallo: They're right, you know.
Avellino to Richard DeLuca, Lucchese Crime family member: He's telling me that the union is his, you know. So I'm saying: what do you mean, the union is yours? He believes the fucking union is his, and what am I gonna--you know--I'm gonna say: the union, nothing, is yours. Everything is the boss and we only got the privilege of working it or running it, unless you got a, something that is a legitimate thing, you know, that it's yours, then they say: well, that's yours, but anything that's got to do. . . .
DeLuca: You operate at his pleasure. . . . A lot of guys forget that.
Avellino: I mean, I know Salem [Carting] is mine in stock, but I gave--I signed my life to you.
Avellino: 50 really, if I sign my life to you, my stock is yours, but because you're kind enough that you don't make a demand on me.
Avellino in a conversation with Emedio Pazzini, associate of Avellino and owner of Jamaica Ash and Rubbish Removal.
Fazzini: You've got to control the men. That's the power.
Avellino: That's the power.
Fazzini: You gotta control the workers [inaudible] right now you control the employers.
Avellino: Right. Right now we as the Association, we control the bosses, right. Now, when we control the men, we control the bosses even better, now because they're even more fuckin' afraid. Right.
Fazzini: Sal, please don't let my men walk backwards. Let them walk ahead.
Avellino: Do you understand me? Now, when you got a guy that steps out of line and this and that now you got the whip. You got the fuckin' whip. This is what he tells me all the time: "A strong union makes money for everybody, including the wise guys." The wise guys even make more money with a strong union.
Just as a traveler understands better the country he is visiting by learning in advance something of the customs and practices of its people, so the reader of the following case studies of criminal activities in the solid and hazardous waste hauling business should benefit from a preliminary review of organized crime's modus operandi.
Fortunately, the many studies that have been made on organized crime, including the recent hearings of the Presidents Commission on Organized Crime, provide the basis for a fairly precise profile that can be used as a benchmark for testing the several case histories presented in this report.
Although this profile is based on La Cosa Nostra (LCN)--the specific group subject to scrutiny in this report--many of the characteristics are shared by other organized crime groups active in the United States, the activities of which are not as well known to the general public because they are smaller in scope and have received less media attention. There are regional gangs operating in various sections of the country where the dominant membership may be black, Jewish, German, Polish, Dutch, Lebanese, Mexican or South American, depending on the ethnic background of the particular region. There are also branches of Asian-based gangs, such the Japanese Yakuza and the Chinese Triad Societies, which have become increasingly active in this country in recent years, particularly in the area of illegal drug traffic.
Describing a Triad Society, James Harmon, Executive Director of the President's Commission on Organized Crime, suggested that it be thought of as roughly equivalent to a Mafia family. "It does have some variations in structure, but it is comparable and equivalent to what people generally think of as the Mafia family. It does have a hierarchy, it does have a way to discipline, it does have a way to share profits and allocate responsibility and territories and it does have a way to dissolve disputes among and between various Triad Societies."
The typical LCN crime family is not rigidly organized. Members, whether "soldiers" or "capos," can go into and manage their own legitimate businesses; and what they earn in this manner belongs to them and not to the mob. Moreover, at the death of such individuals, the business can be inherited by their children without the syndicate sharing in the estate. However, the syndicate does get its "take" in whatever illegitimate activities the individual is involved, as well as from some of his legitimate businesses if they have been financed by the crime family; and at his death the syndicate decides whether the operation passes on to a blood relative or to another crime family member. In many cases, moreover, the syndicate has provided the bankroll that allowed the member to set up his illegal operations.
The typical LCN family avoids bookkeeping in its operations, relying instead on the use of people it can trust. The penalty for cheating is death and it is carried out ruthlessly, without appeal.
Because of the huge amounts of cash generated by their illegal operations, the syndicate uses "front" or "straw" men whom they can set up in legitimate businesses.
Profits from these operations are "skimmed" by the syndicate and the business itself always remains effectively under the syndicate's control. This is done by having one of their own people work within the operation, perhaps as a manager, secretary or treasurer. Although the straw man may have no criminal record and no previous organized crime connections, the presence of a known organized crime member in his organization should send an immediate signal to law enforcement agencies.
Disputes between crime families can lead to gang warfare, but the more frequent solution is to go to arbitration through a "sitdown"* or a commission set up by the families for that purpose. A crime family moving into a new territory frequently will seek permission to operate from the crime family or families dominant in the area, even though the operation is not of the same nature as those in which the resident crime families are involved. Normally, they would not seek permission if their activity were going to conflict with operations controlled by the resident crime family or families. Territorial rights are basic to LCN family activities, and unless these rights are addressed gang warfare is a likely consequence.
Since the basis of the syndicate's power is its illicit operations, and since it can have no recourse to the legal system of society when differences arise, a very high premium is put on respect for the property rights system. This same system not only applies to the activities of the families but to the individual members within the families.
Examining the solid waste hauling industry, one finds that the property rights system is rigidly enforced. Rebel carters, who will not abide by the system, face intimidation, violence and, as a last resort, murder.
The strategy by which the LCN compels compliance with the property rights system includes the following:
Such, in broadest outline, is the profile of organized crime's methods of operation. The case histories that follow cannot in every instance cite conclusive proof of organized crime's .involvement, but if the profile offered here is used as a benchmark, it should provide highly reliable insights into which operations are, indeed, apparently connected with organized crime.
The Mafia or LCN has now entered the folklore of our culture. Any six-year-old who watches TV has some familiarity with the way the mob operates. Inevitably, the public's conception of criminal activities suffers from oversimplification, as, indeed, do some of the statements made by law enforcement officials.
The outline of the Structure of Racketeering in the Solid and Hazardous Waste Hauling Industry presented above has been based on several outside sources, as well as this committee's own investigations.
The investigation of improper activities in the labor or management field, which resulted in hearings before the select committee under the chairmanship of U.S. Senator John McClellan in 1957, provided insight into the racketeering that was taking place in the solid waste hauling industry in the United States. These hearings are of particular importance in understanding the situation in New York City, Long Island and the Westchester area. What makes them even more remarkable is that today, 30 years later, the crime families and some of the same individuals named at those hearings, and their progeny, are still in operation.
It was, of course, Joseph Valachi's testimony before a United States Senate committee in 1963 that revealed for the first time the broad organizational structure and nationwide membership of the LCN.
The Presidents Commission on Organized Crime, which has been holding hearings since 1984 and just released its final report in March 1986, has also provided important information on organized crime activities at the present time.
In between there have been several important hearings by the New York and New Jersey state legislatures that have focused specifically on the solid and hazardous waste hauling industries.
For those who are interested in further information on the matters referred to in connection with the LCN's ability to corrupt and intimidate political figures, the section on Nick Rattenni and the City of Yonkers provides some local examples. The section dealing with John Fine's investigations and the Ramapo landfill is also illustrative. Charles "Lucky" Luciano's participation in World War II on two occasions--once to end sabotage on New York's docks, and later to ease an allied landing at Palermo, Sicily--have been mentioned before in the media. Similarly, with regard to the mob's assistance in securing the Chicago vote for John F. Kennedy in the presidential election as well as the allegations of their involvement in his assassination. Nor should the plot to murder Fidel Castro, through mob agents, be forgotten. Closer to home, the corruption of political figures in .Long Island, both Democratic and Republican, is discussed in Sections Ten and Eleven. In one instance, a state legislator, brother of a U.S. senator, does not come out untainted.
Chairman Hinchey: Do you believe what he says, is he a trustworthy person, is he telling the truth?
Mr. Madonna:I never had any difficulty with anything Mr. Kaufman has said. I have been working in the solid waste industry and more recently the hazardous waste industry, and he had a unique opportunity to make insights. To put it bluntly, nuns don't testify about what goes on in a whorehouse. I mean, you need to deal with a whore, and I don't mean to say that as a characterization of Harold, but you have to get somebody who is in with the criminal to get testimony of what goes on. I mean, you just can't look at a professor or a proest, or whoever you may consider a person whose credibility is beyond reproach... I never had any problem with the testimony he gave me.7
Leading Westchester civic figures and businessmen at the Willow Ridge Country Club knew who he was - the short and stocky elderly man who was out there on the golf course whenever the weather permitted, indulging in his passion for the sport. If they had any misgivings, they kept them to themselves.8 Nicholas A. Rattenni was not only the father of Alfred (“Nick Jr.”) Rattenni, club champion at Willow Ridge, but a man of formidable reputation, a survivor of many gang wars, one of the targets in the famous 1957 McClellan investigation of organized crime, a ruling lieutenant in the Genovese crime family and the czar of the Westchester carting industry, controlling 90 percent of the county’s private garbage hauling operations.9
Although the circumstances surrounding the elder Rattenni’s rise to power occurred some 30 years ago, they are important to an understanding of the process by which organized crime extended its control of the solid waste hauling business in the Hudson Valley. The elder Rattenni died in 1982, but the network of firms controlling the carting business continues. In subsequent sections the activities of Nick Jr., Benjamin Cohen, Russell Mahler, the Milos, Alfred DeMarco, the Mongellis, the Coppolas, the Fiorillos, Carmine Franco, the Gaess brothers and others - all of whom are reviewed in some detail - will be better understood through an understanding of what happened in the City of Yonkers.
Known as a ruthless mob boss in his earlier years, by the time he died in 1982 he had acquired millions from his network of legitimate and illegitimate business operations, including loansharking and gambling, as well as his control of most of the commercial and industrial waste hauling in Yonkers and Westchester.10
He served his first prison sentence in 1927, receiving five years in Sing Sing for second-degree robbery. In 1936 he was tried unsuccessfully for grand larcency, and in the 1950s for income tax evasion. In 1970-71 he was a defendant in three separate cases. First, he was acquitted of a charge, of conspiring to bribe Internal Revenue Service employees, but was subsequently found guilty of tampering with that jury. A second case involved him and four State Troopers along with six other persons in a $650 million organized crime gambling syndicate in Westchester and Rockland counties. He was found guilty of conspiracy in connection with providing free vacations to the Troopers in return for protection of the gambling operations. He was acquitted in a third case involving loansharking activities and alleged threats of violence, but nevertheless spent five years in prison for his convictions in the first two cases.11
The interest in Rattenni’s activities extends beyond his ownership of the two carting concerns, Westchester Carting Corporation and Fleetwood Haulage Corporation. We are also interested in his reputation as a dominant force in the carting industry in Westchester County and his role as an arbiter, settling disputes among the smaller carters.12 Moreover, the charge made by Harold Kaufman, that Rattenni’s son, Alfred Nick Jr., the former Willow Ridge Country Club champion, today plays an important role in the organized crime hierarchy in the Hudson Valley, has to be taken seriously (see page 30). Kaufman’s testimony has time and time again been supported by independent investigations of law enforcement agencies.
The elder Rattenni’s emergence as czar of the Westchester carting industry began in 1949 when the Yonkers Common Council passed an ordinance that the city would no longer provide garbage collection for commercial and industrial establishments.13 This, the most lucrative part of the hauling business, would be turned over to private carters. New York City had set the pattern as far back as the turn of the century, opening the door for the strong-arm tactics that were to become the trademark of mob-controlled garbage hauling.
Employees in Rattenni’s Westchester Carting Company had approached Local 456 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to organize them, but one of Rattenni’s partner’s intervened and arranged the signing of a contract with Teamsters Local 27 out of New York City, a local with established underworld connections. Local 27 was not a carting union but one that dealt with the paper and box industry.14
When a turf dispute erupted between the two unions, an agreement was eventually reached, allowing Local 27 to keep Westchester Carting, but allocating organizing of future carters to Local 456. The agreement did not last long, however, as Local 27 splintered, spawning Local 813, to handle carters specifically, under the direction of Bernie Adelstein, a business agent for Local 27, who had become heavily involved in Westchester Carting.15 Adelstein was still active as recently as 1985 and will be referred to again in the section of this report dealing with union corruption in Long Island.
In the meantime, another hauler, Rex Carting, was becoming successful in attracting new customers and had the support of the Yonker’s Chamber of Commerce, which had been dissatified with the high cost of doing business with Rattenni’s company. Local 813 retaliated with threats and intimidation of customers, and in 1952 Johnny Acropolis, who ran Rex Carting, was shot in the head at point-blank range as he entered his home. A month later Rex Carting went out of business, leaving Rattenni with a monopoly of the carting industry in Westchester County.16
The following year Local 813 relinquished its jurisdiction over the county and Westchester Carting installed its own union at the suggestion of “Joey Surprise” Feola of Mamaroneck. Feola, an ex-convict and reputed member of the Genovese family, was later to disappear after a property rights dispute over the garbage removal contract for the Ford Motor Company plant in Mahwah, New Jersey. When wiretaps revealed that Feola’s body had been disposed of in a garbage compactor, then U.S. District Attorney Robert Morgenthau launched another investigation into the private carting industry in Westchester. According to the New York Times, the two-year investigation confirmed that carting companies controlled by the Genovese and Gambino families handled 90 percent of the county’s commercial waste disposal. The Morgenthau inquiry resulted in two convictions. Vincent M. Fiorillo, the owner of several Westchester carting companies, was sentenced to a year in prison for falsely denying his involvement in a property rights transaction, and a Queens-based carter, Nicola Melillo, a reputed member of the Gambino family, was sentenced to ten years in prison for perjury and extortion.17
While the domination of the county’s waste hauling business by organized crime figures was well established, it remained for the 1986 inquiry by the New York State Commission of Investigation (SIC) to focus on the extent to which organized crime had managed to corrupt the operations of Yonkers city government.
At that time, Yonkers disposed of its solid wastes through city-owned incinerator facilities. To quote from the SIC’s report:
The incinerator facilities of Yonkers are used by private carters as well as city trucks. Private carters who dump at the city incinerator are required to obtain municipal permits and are supposed to bring to the incinerator only waste collected within city limits. These private carters consist of 10 or 11 companies, of which 6 are industrial firms which merely dispose of their own waste. The remaining 5 firms are private carters who collect waste, garbage, and trash from business firms, retail stores and the like. The major private carters are Westchester Carting Corp. and Fleetwood Haulage Corp....
The fee (for the privilege of disposing their garbage) in effect from 1951 to 1965 was $2 up to 2 tons of garbage and 50 cents for each additional ton. .. . In 1965 a new schedule of fees was imposed after a study revealed that the cost to the city for incinerating garbage from private carters was substantially higher than the revenue received. The committee studying the problem was the Budget Committee whose chairman was Councilman Nicholas Benyo. . . . Word began to reach Benyo that he was treading on dangerous ground and that “maybe it would be safer for me if I just didn’t do anything on this project.”...
Benyo was awakened by a telephone call sometime after midnight (one snowy winter evening). The caller was Councilman James Downes who told Benyo some people wanted to talk to him.
Q. And did he tell you who the people were?
A. Well, he said it was Nick Rattenni, that he wanted to talk to me of this fee--proposed incinerator fee.
Q. Councilman Downes called you at home after midnight and told you that Nick Rattenni wanted to speak to you about the fee?
A. Yes sir.
Q. You mean he wanted you to get out of bed and come down and meet Rattenni?
A. Yes sir.
Q. Where did he want you to have this meeting?
A. At Bruno’s Restaurant on Central Avenue.
Q. What did you tell him?
A. When I came there?
Q. No, before you went, on the telephone.
A. Well, I told him that I--you know, this was not an appropriate time, at 12:00 o’clock midnight or so, getting me out of bed, but he suggested that I do go and listen to them, what they have to say.
Q. Can you tell us why you went?
A. Well, I came to two conclusions quickly. If the people, the people who seemed to have problems with me, specifically Rattenni- -if Rattenni wanted to talk to me, and if he was the person that you read about in the papers, then I concluded that if they want to see me, and if I don’t go, they are going to find me anyway, so I felt it would be best if I faced up to the situation and get it over with.
Q. Did your wife know you were going?
A. Yes sir.
Q. How did she react to this idea?
A. Well, naturally, she didn’t want me to go, and but I went anyway. I told her that if I’m not back by a certain time to call the Second Precinct, to tell them where I went.18
Benyo, fearing for his personal safety, went out for the meeting where he met Rattenni, who made it clear that he was unhappy with the increased fees.
Despite the pressure exerted by Rattenni, a new rate structure was enacted that was intended to correct the financial loss to the city of almost $125,000 a year. The victory for Benyo was only illusory, however, as the ordinance that was enacted was not even consistent with his committee’s report or recommendations. The new fee schedule was $2 from 0 to 2,000 pounds; $3 from 2,001 to 4,000 pounds; and so on. The fee for 10,001 to 12,000 pounds (five to six tons) would be $5. Benyo’s committee had intended that a hauler dropping six tons would have to pay six times $5 or $30, but the way the ordinance was implemented, the hauler dumping the six tons did not pay $5 per ton but $5 for the entire load.19
The actual net effect of this unusual interpretation was to raise the dumping fees by only $1 per load dumped. The largest private carters, Westchester Carting and Fleetwood, dumped an average of between 4 to 7 tons a load. Thus for each 4-ton load, the new rates meant a mere increase of 25 cents per ton, while for a 7-ton load, the increase dwindled proportionately to only 15 cents per ton. Since the larger the load, the less it cost per ton, a definite advantage resulted to the larger carting companies, because they had large trucks which could handle the greater loads.20
For almost eight years the city had been laboring in vain to solve its garbage problem. An attempt was made in 1966 to find a way out by enlarging the city incinerator. When bids were requested, it soon became evident that this was going to be just another opportunity for corruption.21 The New York State Commission of Investigation found evidence suggesting that organized crime figures and members of the city council were conspiring together on a shakedown of prospective contractors.
The city should have placed limitations, of course, on the amount of waste that was dumped at the city incinerator by private carters. The city had its own garbage to dispose of, the household garbage collected by city garbage trucks as a municipal service. Some of the municipal garbage was being disposed of at the incinerator, but the city was also carting large quantities of it to the Croton dump, 23 miles away, due to the growing overload of garbage being brought by the private haulers. City Manager Adler attempted in 1966 to limit the amount of garbage that private haulers could bring to the incinerator,
but his efforts were sabotaged by Commissioner of Public Works Maffei, under whose direction the city incinerator was operated. Just as often as the superintendent of the incinerator would turn the private carters away if they had exceeded their quotas, Maffei would call the superintendent and order him to let them in. Although there was a brief interval during which the situation improved, it soon deteriorated to a point where the city could no longer cope with the huge excesses that were accumulating. The city’s own garbage trucks could not handle the overload that had to be carted to Croton and the city began turning even more to private contractors.22
The city thus found itself in the absurd position of having to pay $8 to $10 per ton to private carters to transport its garbage to Croton, while Rattenni and the other private carters were paying only $1 per ton to use the city incinerator. In addition, the SIC reported that more than half the payments made by the city to private carters went to Rattenni-owned companies, including the newly formed A-I Compaction Corporation, owned by Nick Jr. Rattenni. Other companies, such as ANR Leasing Corporation and Trumid Construction Company, Inc., which participated in hauling to Croton, also showed strong evidence of the elder Rattenni’s involvement.23 (John Masiello, identified as a soldier in the Genovese-Tieri crime family, was a principal in ANR.24)
Councilman Frank A. Adamo, first elected in 1963 and then reelected in 1965, 1967 and 1969, was also a high school teacher in the Yonkers school system and a friend of Nicholas Rattenni. Two former city managers, the secretary of the Yonkers Board of Contract and Supply (BOCS), the Corporation Counsel and the Deputy Commissioner of Public Works all testified before the SIC to Adamo’s intervention in the awarding of contracts on behalf of personal or political friends; and Adamo himself conceded that he had participated in numerous such activities forbidden by the city charter.25
Adamo testified that he had first met Rattenni at a social function during his second term in the council and that he was aware of his background and reputation. Nevertheless, he admitted to visiting Rattenni at his home to discuss the operation of the city incinerator.26
“This was strange,” notes the SIC report, “since Rattenni had nothing to do with the operation of the incinerator.”27 At least, not officially.
On another occasion Adamo invited City Manager Adler to meet him in an out-of- the-way bar in Harrison, New York. When they sat down, Adler testified, Nicholas Rattenni, who was at the bar, came over and joined them. Adler was asked what had happened:
A. We sat down, we ordered lunch, and during the conversation at lunch, Mr. Adamo had in previous conversations, and before the committee meetings in the Council, had made recommendations that he thought the best thing for the City of Yonkers, so far as garbage, would be to have all the garbage collection turned over to private carters.
And the tenor of the conversation at that lunch was that I should cooperate with Frank Adamo to make reports to the Council to show that the City of Yonkers was incapable of handling the garbage problem and to make recommendations to the Common Council to ultimately go to private carting for the collection and disposal of garbage.28
This testimony was essentially verified by the SIC report that “Adamo himself made numerous admissions concerning his injection into the area of contract awards.”29 Meanwhile, Ratterini had made sure that the city was incapable of handling garbage collection. Not only had he succeeded in obtaining unlimited access to the city incinerator,but trucking firms controlled by him were making an additional half a million dollars a year transporting household garbage to Croton, which the city was unable to leave at its own incinerator because Rattenni’s hauling companies were bringing increased amounts of commercial garbage there.30
Rattenni’s corrupting influence was not confined to the City of Yonkers. The Republican administration of the Town of Greenburgh awarded the town’s garbage hauling contract to A-1 Compaction (Nick Jr.’s company) two years in a row although it was not the initial low bidder. It was later determined that the town was paying A-1 $1,000 per week more than it would have cost the town to do the carting itself.31
Now, nearly 20 years later, 35 municipalities in Westchester County are paying for the consequences of Rattenni’s racketeering activities, having failed to perceive the warning that the Yonkers situation signaled. As a result, the same drama of exploitation seems to be unfolding again, this time for all of Westchester County, with the same predictability. Only this time it involves 35 municipalities in the county, all of which use the newly opened Signal Resco incineration plant.32
Almost immediately after opening in 1984 the Signal Resco plant presented a dilemma to the county. It was built to accommodate contracts with 34 municipalities for an estimated 420,000 tons of waste a year, and has a permit to handle a 657,000-ton capacity. However, some 800,000 tons of waste a year are now in need of disposal. The excess was being carted to the same Croton landfill that Yonkers was using 20 years ago. The excess came about largely because the private carters also used Resco, although they did not at first want to participate. Once the plant was opened, however, they changed their minds.33 It is also likely that these private carters are bringing in waste to Resco from outside the county and even from outside the state, thereby causing the overload.
A crisis situation had been created because the Croton site was scheduled to close by June 30, 1986. The county would have been justified in telling the private carters that they could not use Resco, but the county had allowed itself to become so dependent on the private carters that if they walked away from their accounts, they would leave the county with a highly embarrassing and also dangerous public health problem.34
Westchester County Executive Andrew O’Rourke made two highly controversial and questionable proposals: the first, to purchase the DeMarco-owned Al Turi landfill in Goshen at a cost estimated between $20 million and $50 million,35 not only to accommodate the excess waste, but also to meet a contractual agreement with Signal Resco, an agreement that was well known to the county for the past several years. The purchase would have involved 300 acres, one-third of which would have included the presently active landfill along with the old Al Turi site, which is on the State’s hazardous waste site inventory.36 This would have made the purchase a risky investment for the county, as it would have to share in the liability in the event that the contaminated section should require extensive cleanup in the future. And the remaining two-thirds would naturally have had to undergo the arduous, time-consuming and expensive permitting process now required by law for all new landfills.
Furthermore, the O’Rourke proposal contained an almost inexplicable irony: in order to accommodate the dumping needs of the private carters - some with mob connections - the county executive would purchase a landfill now owned and operated by
some of those same carters. This proposal would not have benefitted the carters more if they had made it themselves.
The second controversial issue involved a proposal the county executive submitted to the county legislature when Signal Resco opened in 1984. This would have allowed the newly incorporated Intercounty Solid Waste Cooperative to enjoy the same rates as were given to solid waste hauled by or for the municipalities. This would have been at $17 per ton, whether to Signal Resco or to one of the transfer stations. The original rate that had been set for private haulers was $36 a ton to Signal Resco and $65 to the transfer stations.37
This O’Rourke proposal would have benefitted the same carters with mob connections by millions of dollars.
The county legislature turned County Executive O’Rourke down and he pulled back his proposal. The Cooperative, which is commonly referred to as “the cartel,”38 is made up of some 26 carting firms, the biggest of which are Suburban Carting and A-1 Compaction - the former owned by DeMarco in partnership with Thomas Milo, and the latter owned by Nick Jr. Rattenni. Several of the other companies in the cartel are also owned by DeMarco, Milo or Rattenni.39
It is noted that Suburban Carting submitted the only bid for hauling waste from nearly all county buildings, although A-1 Compaction is reported to handle the rest of this business.40
It is also worth noting that ISA of New Jersey, a Louis Mongeili enterprise, handles the hauling of waste from the Westchester transfer stations to Signal Resco at $26 per ton. How substantial a contract this is can be seen from the fact that about 1,000 tons a day are hauled to Signal Resco from the transfer stations.41 Louis Mongelli comes under discussion in Sections Two and Seven. Informant reports tie him to Mario Gigante and Thomas Milo, both reputed to belong to the Genovese-Tieri crime family.42
After the 1984 proposal was turned down by the county legislature, the cartel continued to use Signal Resco, submitting checks to cover the rate in the rejected proposal rather than the actual rate.43
In March of 1985 County Executive O’Rourke returned with a final contract to the county legislature, which would give the cartel a rate of $17.92 for hauling to Resco and $21.92 for hauling to the transfer stations. This was agreed to by the county legislature on a straight, party-line vote.44
However, those carters who do not belong to the cartel do not benefit and must pay the standard $36 for hauling to Resco and $65 for hauling to the transfer stations.45 Moreover, the county executive forgave the cartel the amounts owed for business conducted prior to the approval and accepted their original checks for the lesser amounts.46
The deal made with the cartel has already cost the Westchester taxpayers an estimated more than $8 million.47 Interestingly, the agreement was not formally signed, as the county executive officer was asked not to do so by the attorney general because the deal was under investigation for possible violation of the antitrust law.48 The county executive, by accommodating the cartel, was creating the same situation that Yonkers had created for itself back in the 1960s and which was spelled out clearly in an SIC report at that time. Westchester County has been paying the private carters the prices they are
demanding and is participating with them in a compact in possible violation of State and federal antitrust laws.
On June 9, 1986, the attorney general’s office reminded Calvin E. Weber, Westchester Deputy Commissioner of Solid Waste Management, that almost a year had passed without the county resolving the questions that had been raised with regard to the agreement between the county and the cartel, or “CO-OP.” The letter stated, in part:
The agreement between the County and the CO-OP was approved by the Westchester County Board of Legislators on April 15, 1985. It is my understanding, however, that because of our concerns, the agreement has not been fully executed. However, the County is working with the CO-OP as though the contract were in effect. The anti-competitive aspects of the arrangement include the following: (1) private carters belonging to the CO-OP are entitled to dump commercial solid waste at the Charles Point Facility (and related transfer stations) at subsidized tipping fees unavailable to private carters outside the CO-OP; (2) private carters seeking to join the CO-OP may be excluded if all available capacity at the Charles Point Facility has been allocated to CO-OP members; and (3) the CO-OP allocates the limited capacity at the Charles Point Facility among its members. These concerns are underscored by the fact that when the Croton Point landfill closes on June 30, 1986, capacity at the Charles Point Facility will be insufficient to accommodate the solid waste generated in the County and there is no economically feasible alternative dump site. Under the County’s arrangement with the carters, when demand exceeds capacity at the Charles Point Facility, CO-OP waste has priority access over non CO-OP private carter waste. As of July 1, 1986, non CO-OP private carters will be excluded from the Charles Point Facility and will be unable to remain effective competitors in the solid waste removal industry in Westchester County.49
Quoting another section:
The anticompetitive effects of the County’s arrangement with the CO-OP are already being felt in the Westchester carting industry. As I am sure you are aware, CO-OP carters pay a tipping fee of $17.92 per ton and $21.92 per ton at the Charles Point Facility and transfer stations, respectively. Carters outside the CO-OP pay $36.00 and $65.00, respectively. At least one private carter has been forced out of business due to his lack of CO-OP membership. Another carter has complained about his inability to joint the CO-OP and the difficulty he faces in competing with CO-OP carters whose costs are so much lower. Furthermore, by charging below market rates to CO-OP members, the County has lost substantial revenue.50
The letter then reviews the numerous attempts the attorney general’s office had made to encourage the county to withdraw from the agreement. The letter concludes:
The best solution as a matter of antitrust law and public policy is for the County to immediately abandon the agreement with the CO-OP and to impose market value tipping fees on all private carters at the Charles Point Facility and Transfer stations. However, I must advise you that if this matter is not fully resolved in the very near future, this
office will have no choice but to commence litigation, pursuant to the Donnelly Act, the Sherman Act, or both, against the County and the CO-OP.51
Committee staff, in its investigations, learned of O’Rourke’s proposal to buy the Al Turi landfill, and Chairman Hinchey commented to the press in April 1986 regarding the inappropriateness of the planned purchase;52 and on May 31 he spoke in more detail on the matter, as well as on the antitrust nature of the arrangement with the cartel.53
Westchester County Executive O’Rourke almost simultaneously announced that he was breaking off negotiations for the AL Turi landfill,53 and on June 3 he wrote Chairman Hinchey claiming no prior knowledge that illegal dumping in the past had taken place at the site and suggesting that the committee, DEC and the attorney general had been remiss in not notifying Westchester of the problems that existed.54
Chairman Hinchey replied on June 12:
In response to your letter of June 3, 1 must advise you that the information regarding Al Turi landfill and organized crime’s involvement in the Westchester carting industry has been a matter of public knowledge for several years. It would seem that there has been a failure of communication between you and Westchester County District Attorney Carl Vergari, who has long been acquainted with the kind of material which this committee has been investigating. In the Sunday New York Times of October 13, 1974, it was reported that Mr. Vergari was launching an investigation into possible bribery and extortion in the carting industry. In the article he is quoted as having referred to A-1 Compaction owned by “Nick Jr.” Rattenni as dominating carting in Yonkers and southwest Westchester. The same article also refers to Suburban Carting, which is owned by Thomas Milo and Alfred DeMarco, and notes that Milo’s uncle had been linked by federal authorities with the Genovese crime family. The Milo and Rattenni names have long been familiar to those who read Westchester newspapers. DeMarco, of course, is the owner of Al Turi landfill which you were going to purchase a few weeks ago.
Your pulling back from the deal apparently indicates that you recognize the dangers that would be involved in the purchase of this landfill. Of even greater concern, however, should be the arrangement you have worked out with the cartel known as the Intercounty Solid Waste Cooperative, which is described on pages 49 through 51 of the forthcoming report. (I am enclosing the draft section in which these pages occur so that you will have adequate opportunity to appreciate our concerns and offer your explanations.)
If you have not already done so, I would suggest that you respond immediately to the letter sent to your Commissioner of Solid Waste Management by the New York State Attorney General’s office, dated June 9, 1986. The deal you have worked out with the cartel is strikingly reminiscent of the situation the Westchester City of Yonkers created for itself back in the Sixties; and which will be found in the enclosed material. It was also spelled out clearly in the State Commission of Investigation’s report at that time. The consequences of your arrangement with the cartel are that Westchester is paying the private carters
prices they are demanding for problems which they themselves created. And dominating the cartel are the same Nick Jr. Rattenni and Thomas Milo mentioned above.... This Committee would certainly be interested in a further explanation from you of the peculiar informal agreement you have reached with the cartel.
I note that the Attorney General’s Office comments to this effect on your uncooperative behavior:
“Since last August Ms. Gross has had numerous contacts with Kaye, Scholer in a further attempt to persuade the County to abandon the CO-OP arrangement. This office has afforded the County every opportunity to avoid a lawsuit. The County has not taken advantage of these opportunities and has reneged on many of the promises it has made.”
I must take exception to your complaint that Westchester has had to search for landfill sites in order to comply with DEC landfill regulations. I hope you realize that those regulations were instituted to protect the health and safety of the citizens of this State. If the DEC is to be faulted at all, it is for leaning over backwards to give municipalities every opportunity to make an orderly transition to proper waste management practices.
Similarly, your suggestion that the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committe and the State bureaucracy may be lax in conveying to you the facts about, the Al Turi landfill, ignores the numerous accounts that have appeared in the press over the past decade. Moreover, the original site had been placed on the State’s Inactive Hazardous Waste Site Registry in 1983 and is required to be on file with the Westchester County Clerk. Moreover, it is our understanding Mr. Weber had informed you of this.
It would have been helpful if Mr. Vergari had explained to you why one cannot, under present law, close down a landfill simply because people with reputed organized crime backgrounds are associated with it. But although the law does not permit automatic closure of such landfills, it certainly is not prudent to become involved in negotiations with such individuals and make expensive purchases from them, especially when those purchases involve public funds. Your cooperation. with them in anticompetitive practices appears to be even more serious.
Finally, you have charged that the attacks on you are politically motivated. Certainly, they are - in the best sense of the word. It would be abdicating my responsibility as chairman of the committee investigating such questionable practices if I did not call them to the attention of the public when you are seeking election to the highest office in the State.
As soon as the complete report on organized crime’s involvement in the carting industry is available, I will be pleased to send you a copy, so that you can see that it focuses on just the kind of activities which are currently taking place in Westchester.55
Mr. O’Rourke called a press conference the same day--this time to announce that he was going to abandon the agreement he had worked out with the cartel.
Additional details that have been learned through staff inquiries:
The wife of DeMarco’s lawyer, Diane Keane, a Republican-Conservative member of the Westchester County Legislature, also sits on the budget committee and vice chairs the county board. Furthermore, she sometimes sits in for the chairman of the county board, who has a seat on the Board of Acquisition and Contracts. This has caused some speculation.
Moreover, Mrs. Keane could possibly be involved in a conflict-of-interest situation, as she did not remove herself when a decision had to be made and she voted in favor of the contract with the Cooperative when the issue came before the county legislature in March of 1985.56
The Board of Acquisitions and Contracts approved a $20,000 appraisal fee for the DeMarco landfill in April of this year. It also approved the option-to-purchase agreement for the landfill, which required that if the county wished to extend the option beyond the initial 45-day limit it would pay DeMarco $20,000 each month for an additional five months, with the provision that this sum would be deducted from the purchase price if the county decided to buy. In other words, if the option had been picked up, DeMarco was to receive $100,000, even if the property was not bought by the county.57
Another aspect of the situation that has prompted speculation is that one of the conduits for the channeling of campaign funds to Republican candidates in Westchester, the Builders Institute of Westchester and Putnam Counties, headed by George Frank, has the same business address as the Intercounty Solid Waste Cooperative.58 Also, the cartel can be reached by calling the Builders Institute telephone number.59
Conversations with Westchester officials confirm that bid-rigging, price-fixing and gouging are rampant. Frank Bohlander, Commissioner of Public Works, told our staff researcher that he did not consider this something for his office to be dealing with, but that it was a law enforcement problem. That it was a problem he readiy conceded, saying, “they are gouging the hell out of us.”60
On June 13, 1986, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, on learning of the disclosures about Al Turi Landfill, Inc., put a hold on an agreement it had entered into with DeMarco regarding development of an advanced liquid-treatment system for industrial wastes and energy conservation.61
The elder Rattenni, with a criminal record and established organized crime connections, became powerful in the Westchester carting industry in 1949, when the Yonkers Common Council turned over commercial and industrial garbage collection to private carters.
Police records and investigations of his activities going back at least as far as 1957 indicate that his operations involved:
The elder Rattenni’s operations provide a graphic example of organized crime’s ability to corrupt the governmental process. This corrupting influence will be evident in other sections of this report, particularly in those dealing with New York City, Long Island and such giants in the industry as SCA and BFI. While it would be naive to assume that some legitimate businesses do not also employ some of the same methods of bribery, threats of retaliation, coercion through monopoly control, old-boy networks and plain conspiracy - organized crime’s special contribution has been the threat and actual use of physical violence in order to extend its marketing operations and the interweaving of legitimate business enterprises with their other, purely criminal activities.
It is impossible to say to what extent the elder Rattenni was in full control of the solid waste hauling empire he had built up in Westchester during his lifetime and to what areas it extended outside New York State. It was apparent as far back as 1957 that he had achieved some eminence in the hierarchy of organized crime. His operations later spread beyond Westchester into Connecticut and other counties in the Mid-Hudson Valley.
The current problems facing Westchester County could have been avoided if public officials had heeded the lessons that the Yonkers situation could have taught.
One purpose of this report is to demonstrate that there is a fairly consistent structure in organized crime activities and that this structure is recognizable in the operations of a large segment of those involved in the waste hauling business. In the sections that follow that structure should become increasingly apparent.
Harold Kaufman's comments at the committee hearing give an interesting picture of relationships in the Genovese-Tieri family. The following is quoted for the information it provides on the Rattenis, who were discussed in Section One; Thomas Milo, who will be introduced in Section Three and be discussed further in Section Four; and the Mongellis, who will be discussed in Section Seven.
Kaufman: Joey Pagano is the top-ranking member in the Genovese family, he used to be partners with his brother, Pat Pagano.
I met them for the first time when they were serving time for a narcotics violation in Atlanta.
Chairman Hinchey: In Atlanta. Would you repeat the second name?
Kaufman:Patty Pagano. Patty was the brother of Joseph, the older brother: he was killed by the mob.
Chairman Hinchey: That is at the top. Now, could you work your way down for us?
Kaufman: Sure. You go all the way down, there is underlings all over, but you go to the capo in Yonkers and Westchester, which is Nick Ratteni, the father was named Crazy Nick Ratteni, who served a sentence in the New York State Penitentiary. His son now operated A-1... a carting company in Yonkers...
Chairman Hinchey: Is that A-1 Compacting?
Kaufman: A-1 Compaction, right.
Chairman Hinchey: Is he otherwise known as Cockeyed Nick?
Kaufman: They call him Crazy Nick. I heard of Crazy Nick, but, of course, I wouldn't call him neither one to his face.
Chairman Hinchey:Are they in business with Suburban Carting and Tommy Milo?
Kaufman: Not formally, sir.
Chairman Hinchey: What do you mean by "not formally"?
Kaufman: In other words, there is no partnership agreement between them. There is an agreement negotiated by the mob which divides the territory between the two of them. Tommy Milo reports to Nick Ratteni.
Chairman Hinchey: Who else reports to Ratteni?
Kaufman: The Mongellis, through their enforcer, Mario Giganti, have to cooperate and have to get permission from Nick Ratteni to operate in these counties. Nick Ratteni, in turn, goes to Joey Pagano, who reports to Tieri, the head of the Genovese family.
Chairman Hinchey: You mentioned earlier the fact that Alfred DeMarco signs papers for Al Turi. Can you describe the relationship between Alfred DeMarco and Tommy Milo?
Kaufman: Yes sir, they are partners.62
LA COSA NOSTRA
In 1979 Assistant Attorney General John Fine, the tall, lean and intense director of the White Plains field office of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force (OCTF), was among the first to probe deeply into organized crime’s involvement in private landfill operations in the Lower Hudson Valley. It was as a result of Fine’s investigations into organized crime’s growing role in the hazardous waste hauling business in the Mid-Hudson Valley that this committee decided to launch its own investigation in 1984.
Switching carrer objectives from medicine to law, after graduating from college at 19, John Fine had at first moved ahead rapidly. After receiving his degree from Notre Dame Law School he was taken on by the famous Manhattan District Attorney Frank Hogan, where he worked in the rackets bureau. For a short period he also worked for the federal government, posing as a buyer of wheat in Ethiopia and as a prober of a Medicaid mill in New York City.64 However, he was fired from his OCTF post in 1980 after having leveled sensational charges of political corruption that reached as far as Governor Carey, himself. There were witnesses to testify that Fine was overzealous in his efforts to obtain convictions65 and that when he failed, he sought to put the blame on others whom he accused of conspiring against him.
Nevertheless, the evidence turned up through Fine’s investigations into the presence of organized crime in Rockland and Orange counties, and the Ramapo landfill in particular, subsequently proved to be accurate. The Ramapo landfill was finally ordered closed by DEC in 1984 because of the threat it posed to the area’s drinking-water supplies. A leachate plume, which currently flows from the site, poses a continual threat to the Villages of Hillburn and Suffern and to the Ramapo River, which supplies drinking water for a large portion of northern New Jersey. Among the contaminants detected in the leachate (which exceed State groundwater standards) are mercury, chromium and cadmium.66
However, the question of political coverup, which Fine had raised, has never been resolved. Efforts to review the material that might substantiate Fine’s claims have run up against a bureaucratic wall of silence.
Carmine Franco, a member of the Genovese-Tieri crime family, took over the Ramapo landfill contract in 1976 after forcing the previous owner to sell out after his house was set ablaze in a fire of suspicious origin.67 Franco was already heavily involved in the garbage hauling business in New Jersey and was president of the New Jersey Trade Waste Association, which was later found guilty of illegally monopolizing the garbage industry in that state. Franco and his partner, Anthony Rizzo, were sentenced to 18 months in New Jersey State Prison, but this was suspended, and they received 180 days in jail. As a condition of probation, they were required to perform 1,000 hours of community service and pay fines of $50,000 and $40,000, respectively. Their companies were also fined $75,000 and $25,000, respectively.68 They had been charged with using threats, intimidation and violence to pressure carters into joining the conspiracy and complying with its rules. The New Jersey Trade Waste Association was ordered to dissolve and Franco was forbidden to participate in the formation and operation of any new association. Rizzo was barred from engaging in the solid waste industry in New Jersey in any capacity other than as a “driver” or “lifter.”69
It was Harold Kaufman who, working in an undercover capacity, provided much of the evidence that secured the convictions. Confidential informants had alerted the authorities that the Trade Waste Association was also planning to take over the hazardous waste hauling industry in the same way that the mob had managed to dominate solid waste hauling.70
Kaufman explained at this committee’s hearing how he had discussed the Ramapo landfill operations with Franco and his partner, Anthony Rizzo, at a New Jersey Trade Waste Association grievance meeting, where property rights disputes were resolved:
Chairman Hinchey: Do you have any knowledge of the Ramapo landfill?
Kaufman: Just through grievance meetings at the New Jersey Trade Waste Association and from what Carmine Franco told me and from what Anthony Rizzo told me.
Chairman Hinchey: What did they tell you?
Kaufman: That it was a gold mine. They had forced out the previous owners with threats, and they had this landfill that would take anything but the kitchen sink.71
Franco made little attempt to hide his activities when he took over the Ramapo landfill. Immediately, out-of-state trucks began to roll in and there was a tremendous increase in the volume of waste. Rockland County’s sheriff’s department was quick to become suspicious and began to investigate the landfill operation as early as the fall of 1976. The first thing to be noticed was that Franco’s trucks and those owned by Valley Carting out of Ossining routinely bypassed the weight scales, which local carters were required to use.72
The investigating officers claimed to have approached the Rockland District Attorney, Kenneth Gribetz, on October 17, 1976, to request the convening of a grand jury. They stated that Gribetz refused.73 When a local radio reporter later released the story of the investigations, Gribetz claimed to have known nothing until the news story broke. However, he agreed to work with the sheriff’s department and arranged for the involvement of the OCTF in the case.74
John Fine later reported that he also met with resistance in securing Gribetz’s approval to convene a grand jury in the case and that when Gribetz finally acceded, he then asked Fine to hold off on the indictments until after election day since the case involved several current officeholders. Fine later testified before a State Senate committee that Gribetz influenced Ralph Smith, then director of the OCTF and Fine’s boss, to order Fine to hold off on the indictments until after the election. Gribetz denied the charges.76
By December 1979 Fine had succeeded in having indictments brought in against Carmine and Salvatore Franco and Anthony Rizzo, charging them with grand larceny and with conspiring with town officials to use town carting equipment and personnel for their own personal gain. Allegedly, the defendants had cheated the town out of some $3OO,OOO by allowing their own trucks and those belonging to Valley Carting to dump free of charge during off hours. The owners of Valley Carting, Matthew and James Hickey and Tobias DeMicco, a documented organized crime figure,78 were also named as defendants in the case. Ultimately, the indictments were dismissed on a technicality. Fine and others suggested that the friendship of Judge Harry Edelstein with Town
Supervisor Morton Baron, one of the targets of the investigation and Edelstein’s “dearest friend,” may have been a factor in the decision he rendered.79
Although Ralph Smith, the then chief of the OCTF, publicly stated his intention to challenge the court decision by Judge Edelstein to dismiss the indictments, an appeal was never filed and the entire matter was dropped.80
Testifying later before a State Senate committee, Fine summarized the kind of resistance the Rockland County sheriff’s office had received during their investigations:
Deputies were run off the road. A police officer was threatened with a gun. City employees attempting to enforce a town environmental code were threatened. Their families were threatened. Political interference was rampant. Legislators threatened to cut off the sheriff’s funds for his investigative staff. Town officials threatened the town chief of police and captain, withholding salary raises because they helped with the investigation of the landfill. A candidate was run against the sheriff. Ninety percent of this man’s campaign approximately was financed by one who owned property which received the liquid waste.81
Although Fine was fired prior to completion of this investigation into political corruption, findings of at least some experts suggested that organized crime’s activities in New Jersey in the area of solid and hazardous waste hauling was pervasive enough to have tainted the political process.82
Carmine Franco had played a key role in all of this. To quote from a confidential informant of the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice:
The undersigned was contacted by a reliable confidential source of information who has previously supplied this investigator with information relative to the illicit dispoal of chemical waste in New Jersey and other states. This informant has long been associated with both solid and chemical waste pickup and disposal. He has personal knowledge of cartage and disposal procedures as well as people employed or associated with the industry.
The CI advised in November 1976 he and others became aware that “organized crime” was beginning to attempt a “takeover” of this state’s lucrative chemical pickup and disposal industry. The CI advised the first attempts came from the New Jersey Trade Waste Association. The presiding association president is Carmen [sic] Franco.83
In addition to operating the Ramapo landfill, Franco had a waste transfer station a few miles away in Hillsdale, New Jersey. Since the closure of the Kin-Buc landfill in Edison, New Jersey, in 1976 because it was so severely polluted from chemical wastes, there had been a need for a convenient location for disposing of hazardous wastes, and it was the belief of Fine and others that Franco was attempting to supply that need by arranging for the commingling of hazardous wastes with the compacted garbage at the transfer station, which was then shipped to private landfills or sod farms in Rockland and Orange counties. Ramapo landfill, originally destined to become the new Kin-Buc, was being watched too closely to accommodate all the hazardous waste that had to be disposed of.84
The efforts of Fine and a few other dedicated law enforcement officers, including Stanley Greenberg of the Rockland County Sheriff’s Office and Detective William Grogan of the Yonkers police, had temporarily slowed, the momentum of organized crime’s takeover of the hazardous waste hauling industry in the Mid-Hudson Valley.85
When Kaufman was questioned at this committee’s hearings regarding Fine’s investigations in Rockland County, his responses supported Fine’s charges of political corruption:
Chairman Hinchey: Back in the late Seventies, particularly in 1979, there were some investigations that were going on with regard to the illegal dumping of toxic and hazardous material in parts of Orange and Rockland counties.... Do you know of any indictments that were pending as a result of that activity?
Kaufman: Yes, I do. Carmine Franco was indicted and Anthony Rizzo was indicted; and some truck drivers from both these companies.
Chairman Hinchey: At one point you had a conversation with Mr. Franco on that subject - and can you tell us what he told you?
Kaufman: Yes sir. When I was undercover with the FBI and also the State of New Jersey at that time I went to the garbage convention in Atlantic City, where I met Mr. Carmine Franco, who was there, who had just beaten this charge, and the indictment was dropped. He told me that money talks, and you can take it from there.
Chairman Hinchey: Can you tell us the date of that, approximately?
Kaufman: . . . I think it was - let’s see, it had to be around December in 1979 or the first part of 1980.
Chairman Hinchey: Did you infer from what he said that he had paid someone, and as a result of that payment, the indictment against him and other people was taken care of, if you will?
Kaufman: There is no doubt in my mind that is what he was inferring, that is what he was bragging about, and that is what he was claiming.86
John Fine’s investigative activities extended beyond the Ramapo landfill in Rockland County. In a memo to his superior, Ralph Smith, dated July 31, 1979, Fine outlined results of investigations in Orange County. It should be noted that the cast of characters identified by Fine are all treated elsewhere in this report and that his observations have proved to be right on target:
Witnesses have reported that toxic and hazardous waste materials have been dumped at the Penaluna landfill in Warwick, Orange County.... There is no approved dump site for chemical or industrial wastes at Warwick . . . suspected toxic wastes, which were unlawfully dumped at the Penaluna landfill in Warwick are automobile batteries, paint, fifty-five gallon barrels of chemicals and other industrial wastes. Much of the hazardous and toxic industrial wastes dumped at the Penaluna landfill . . . is hauled by All County Environmental Service Corporation . . . All County Service Corporation, All County Industrial Waste
Disposal, Round Lake Sanitation, ISA in New Jersey, Inc., Tri-State Carting Corporation and LJM Enterprises. The principals of All County Service Corporation are Frank Coppola, John Coppola and Louis Mongelli....
Information has also been received that toxic wastes are being illegally dumped at the Al Turi landfill site in Goshen. . . . This facility is now being operated by Thomas Milo, Nicholas Milo and Vincent DeVito.... Thomas Milo and Alfred DeMarco, president of Suburban Carting Corporation, own all of the stock in Suburban Carting Corporation. Nicholas Milo, brother of Thomas Milo, and Vincent Milo and Vincent DeVito own DV Waste Control Corporation. DV Waste Control bought C&D Disposal Service, a subsidiary of SCA Services. Before it sold out to DV Waste Control, Jeffrey Gaess was the president of C&D Disposal Service. DV Waste Control has also taken over some of the routes of Dutchess Sanitation Services, Inc., which is owned and co-operated by Matthew lanniello and Joseph, Michael and Vincent Fiorillo.87
Fine then proceeds in his memo to describe the criminal background of Thomas Milo, Vincent DeVito, Matthew lanniello and Joseph Fiorillo.86 At his request, Orange County District Attorney David Ritter signed a consent form to impanel a special grand jury in September 1979. Governor Carey’s signature was also needed, but for reasons never satisfactorily explained the letter was not forwarded to task force officials in Albany. In April 1980, OCTF director Ralph Smith said he was withdrawing the request because more time was needed to develop evidence in the case. Fine had been calling once or twice a week to find out where the governor’s authorization was so that he could get started in Orange County.89
After his dismissal in July 1980, Fine charged that Director Smith had admitted to him that he had “squelched” the Orange County investigation and had been directed by William Dowling, an assistant attorney general, to “put a muzzle on John Fine.”90
For going on two years, committee staff has attempted to obtain the OCTF records dealing with this subject in order to gain some insight to the reason the original investigations were not further pursued. But the staff has been successful in securing only those documents that Fine took from his office before he was literally locked out. This committee chairman invited Mr. Smith to our legislative office in Albany. In response to repeated questions regarding Fine’s allegations, Mr. Smith was completely unforthcoming, claiming either to have no knowledge of the details of the alleged events or not being able to remember them.
A rather lengthy exchange between Chairman Hinchey and Ronald Goldstock, present director of the OCTF, that took place at the committee hearing in 1984 is illustrative of the kind of response that has been obtained:
Chairman Hinchey: This is a landfill [Penaluna] that was operated by people who have been identified as associated with organized crime.... Certain evidence was presented to an investigator of the Organized Crime Task Force at the time. His name was Al Maxwell. Do you have any idea as to the whereabouts of that information or the whereabouts of Mr. Maxwell or what might have happened to any information that was presented to him in the context of an investigation that was going on with regard to organized crime’s involvement in
dumping of both refuse and toxic and hazardous wastes in the Orange and Rockland County areas?
Mr. Goldstock: No, I don’t. To my knowledge he was an investigator who left the task force betfore I arrived there.
Chairman Hinchey: What would happen to cases that were developed by investigators for the OCTF prior to 1981, when you became involved?
Mr. Goldstock: Well, it would depend . . . on whether or not they were State Police officers who were assigned to OCTF.... I know that there was a great deal of information . . . that was given by the OCTF to the Southern District, U.S. Attorney’s Office, the South District of New York, pursuant to their request. As far as I know, they still have that information, they still have the files. I have never seen them and I know literally nothing about them.... We had written the Southern District’s office and asked them for the information back if they were no longer using it. They have not returned it, so I assume they are using it.
* * * * *
Chairman Hinchey: We have been looking at this question not from an academic point of view, but from a solid base and from a legislative point of view, for the past few months, and we find that the kind of activity you have been discussing with regard to Long Island has been going on throughout the Hudson Valley, which involves not only solid but toxic waste, and we also find that the information that existed three, four, five, six or eight years ago is illustrative of what is happening today, which is why I can’t help wondering why somebody has not taken a look at those documents that Al Maxwell had, or others may have had, or why the federal people haven’t even bothered to respond to your letter to let you know whther they are going to send you the stuff or not.
Mr. Goldstock: .. . Our work is different than your work. Matters which are illustrative are extraordinarily important for a legislative committee. They give you the basis on which you can enact legislation. They give you the basis on which to explore things that have occurred before to determine whether it is likely it is going to happen again. . With respect to a prosecutorial unit, which has to rely on evidence and go before a court and be within the Statute of Limitations, that illustrative nature of the information is not important for a variety of reasons. It may be of phenomenal interest to our strategic analysis in developing vulnerability studies, but I am suggesting that it is not of the same value to one operation as it is to another. Secondly, information which is important to you as illustrative may be hearsay information, it may be information which is, in fact -
Chairman Hinchey: It may be hearsay, but in this particular context, just so we can clear the way, in this particular context it is not hearsay information; it is information that was taken from eyewitnesses and also information which was taken from documents, both federal and state documents, and documents from other states, and I am not doing
this to give you a hard time, that is not my purpose here, it is not my purpose to be antagonistic to you at all.
Mr. Goldstock: .. . What I am suggesting to you is that we may have better evidence of what is occurring today from stuff we are doing today rather than looking at stuff that is eight years old. . . . We don’t have the material, it is not physically at OCTF. It is in the Southern District’s office, I haven’t seen it.
Chairman Hinchey: .. . You see, the problem is that there are numerous problems with the attitude you seem to take that I find. First of all, a lot of the information that we are talking about was developed by the OCTF, and was not only information which would be important perhaps to you, even though you disregard it, and regard it as not important, it is important to other agencies. It would be important to the Department of Environmental Conservation, their Enforcement Division. It would be important to the department in terms of developing information they need with regard to the contents of certain areas which were alleged to be toxic and hazardous waste dump sites. That kind of information was presented to your organization and that information is then held in-camera or put in such a place where it is inaccessible to public scrutiny, which impedes all kinds of activity.
Mr. Goldstock: That would be true if it were true.
Chairman Hinchey: It is true.
Mr. Goldstock: I don’t have the material. I told you this. As far as I know - -
The above exchange, which has been considerably compressed, continued for several minutes longer before concluding:
Chairman Hinchey: I will ask you once again if you will ask Mr. Kaley or whoever else has the information that was obtained by Mr. Maxwell or anyone else formerly or presently working for the OCTF, relative to toxic and hazardous waste dumping in Orange and Rockland counties, to provide us with that information through your office: That is something for which we would be grateful.
Mr. Goldstock: I will make them aware of your request.... You have requested that I do this. I will tell them precisely what you have asked me to do.91
The exchange took place in the fall of 1984. To this date the committee has been unable to obtain the materials requested. The committee chairman finds it difficult to believe that the OCTF would have been so unprofessional as to have forwarded original documents to the Southern District without keeping copies. And if this is what actually did happen, it represents totally unacceptable negligence.
Only a few weeks before this report went to press we learned that none of the documents can be found. There is not trace of them in the files.
With regard to Carmine Franco, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, as of April 1986, had initiated license-revocation proceedings through its regulatory process against Carmine Franco and Company.92
Committee staff was astounded and profoundly disappointed at the manner in which the OCTF director responded to requests for documents. The controversial nature of some of John Fine’s allegations naturally raised additional questions once the documents could not be found. In our effort to evaluate John Fine’s work we are struck by the fact that whatever criticisms have been directed at his methods, his findings have stood up remarkably well.
There seems to be little doubt that the New Jersey Trade Waste Association was planning to take over the hazardous waste hauling industry in the same way the mob had managed to dominate solid waste hauling. Franco’s activities at Ramapo and elsewhere in Orange and Rockland counties certainly could be interpreted as being in that direction. In subsequent sections it will be seen that there were also others who were out to profit by such illegal activity.
TWO PORTRAITS FROM HAROLD KAUFMAN'S
In the southeastern corner of the State, some 40 miles from New York City, the new Al Turi landfill in Goshen enjoys the reputation of having been termed a “model facility” by DEC. The 63-acre site was opened in 1983 after an initial investment of $3 million by the owner, Alfred DeMarco.94 Both Harold Kaufman and an undercover agent with the New York State Police have claimed that Rattenni money is behind the operation.95 It is reported that Al Turi’s tipping fees should yield $10 million in annual revenue.96 Because the landfill has an expected life-span of 15 years, it should yield a handsome return on the investment.
The landfill is lined with a two-foot-thick clay base and is also provided with a concrete holding station, which captures any leachate from the garbage and then recirculates it through the garbage to hasten the process of decomposition. Even before arriving at Al Turi the garbage had been compacted twice at a transfer station. No more than 50 yards of refuse is ever exposed at one time as there is a bulldozer always on hand to cover the waste with six inches of earth. The engineering accomplishments at the site include a lucrative methane recovery project. Carefully landscaped, the facility presents a tidy appearance from the road, with a neat brick entrance and all operations hidden by tall pines and knolls. Inside, well-maintained gravel roads lead to the pit where the garbage is dumped.97
But beneath the seeming tranquility of this setting lies a host of questions that will not stay buried.
DeMarco had purchased the original Al Turi landfill of 32 acres in 1974 from Alfred Turi who had handled garbage from the Town and Village of Goshen only. Even before the purchase had been completed, DEC noted that the operation was being expanded to accommodate trucks from other areas without obtaining the required approval.98 DeMarco would be later cited by the Orange County Health Department for dumping industrial wastes at the site, in violation of the conditions of his permit. A letter from John G. Bjorkland of the Orange County Health Department to Brian Acciavetti, then operator of the Al Turi landfill, reads, in part, as follows:
It was apparent at the time of the inspection that some kind of industrial waste material was being disposed of at the site. One of your employees informed our representative that some type of industrial glue was being disposed of by Round Lake Sanitation and wastes from the Avon plant in Suffern were being disposed of by Marangi Brothers. We must call your attention to condition 3 of your approval to construct a new solid waste management facility issued by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation which prohibits the disposal of this type of material.99
According to testimony of Harold Kaufman given before this committee, he had himself witnessed and participated in the illegal disposal of hazardous wastes at Al Turi as late as 1979 and that Al Turi, Inc., had routinely allowed hazardous wastes in;100 in fact, such wastes were sometimes commingled* with refuse at the Yonkers transfer station and taken to Goshen by Suburban Carting, which was owned jointly by DeMarco and Thomas Milo,101 about whom more will be said in the next section. Suburban Carting Corporation not only continues to operate its own transfer station in Westchester County, but it also is
the operator for the City of New Rochelle’s transfer station and that of the Village of Port Chester.102
In the meantime, DeMarco had increased the size of the landfill to 43 acres, and in 1981 he applied to DEC for a permit to expand his operation to an adjacent 60-acre parcel. But while still awaiting approval to use the new site, the Town of Goshen passed an ordinance limiting the size of solid waste management facilities to 50 acres. The effect of this ordinance would be to limit the expansion of Al Turi to an additional seven acres. DeMarco brought an action against the town to set aside the ordinance. In a consent order signed in May 1982, DEC allowed continued operation of the new site providing the operators met specific conditions for final closure of the old site, including certain financial guarantees.103
DEC then granted a permit for the present site on October 4, 1983, after DeMarco had won his case against the Town of Goshen.104 The original 43-acre site contaminated local groundwater beyond the State’s limits for manganese and iron, but is not considered by DEC as posing an immediate threat to the health of the public.105 However, it is listed as a site suspected of having received hazardous wastes.106
There are other disturbing elements in the story of the Al Turi landfill.
Over the past 18 years the Suburban Carting Corporation of Mamaroneck, with its related companies, has become one of the largest carting conglomerates in the Mid-Hudson region (see the table on page 45).
In his testimony before this committee, Harold Kaufman connected Suburban Carting with Nick Rattenni, claiming that although there was no formal partnership agreement between Thomas Milo and Rattenni, there was a mob-negotiated territorial agreement and that "Tommy Milo reports to Nick Rattenni."107 There have been other reports that Tommy Milo rather than Nick Jr. inherited the elder Rattenni’s mantle, but whichever the actual case, their activities are so intertwined that it is obvious there is a close working agreement between them.108 A-1 Compaction has been involved in a joint venture with Suburban.109
Milo has been identified as a member of the Genovese-Tieri family by a former undercover agent of the New York State Police.110
Federal authorities previously had linked Sabato Milo, Thomas Milo’s father (who also had been in the carting industry),111 and his uncle, Thomas Milo, with the Genovese-Tieri crime family. They were also named in the Valachi hearings as members of the same syndicate, involved in gambling, loansharking and narcotics.112 Suburban Carting was one of three Westchester garbage companies targeted in a Westchester District Attorney’s 1974 investigation for their Connection to organized crime. (Valley Carting Corporation, headed by Tobia DeMicco, listed by federal authorities as a soldier in the Genovese-Tieri family, and A-1 Compaction Company, a firm that the elder Rattenni financed for his son, were the other two firms identified in the probe.113)
It is also worth noting that Joseph Fiorillo Jr., has functioned as a manager of Al Turi Landfill, Inc.114 Joseph Fiorillo and his father, Joseph Fiorillo Sr., will be discussed later in connection with two other contaminated landfills in the Hudson Valley. The elder Fiorillo has admitted being bankrolled by Matthew lanniello and Benjamin Cohen, prominent in Genovese-Tieri operations, and he himself is a member of the same crime family.115 He was indicted along with them in a racketeering conspiracy described on page 54.116 Moreover, Ianniello, Cohen and others were sentenced in February 1986 in
|Suburban Carting Corporation
306 Fayette Avenue
Mamaroneck, New York
Alfred J. DeMarco, President
Thoams M. Milo, Secretary
Trottown Transfer, Inc.
306 Fayette Avenue
Mamaroneck, New York
Alfred J. DeMarco, President
James Galante, Vice President
Suburban Carting of Northern
Westchester & Putnam Counties, Inc.
86 Fair Street
Carmel, New York
James Galante, Vice President
C.C. Boyce and Sons, Inc.
159 Wildey Street
Tarrytown, New York
Alfred DeMarco, President
Automated Waste Disposal, Inc.
Brewster, New York and
Carmel, New York
James Galante, Vice President
F & H Sanitation
Carmel, New York
James Galante, Vice President
|*The small and average-sized collection|
companies own 1-6 vehicles.
Source: Westchester County Health Department.
connection with a scheme to skim money from Manhattan bars and restaurants they secretly owned. In addition to six-year jail terms, they were ordered to pay fines and required to forfeit $2 million of the skimmed money to the government.117 Their activities will be discussed in greater detail in Section Five. Another Fiorillo (Vincent), operator of several carting companies in northern New Jersey and Westchester and Dutchess counties, was sentenced in 1966 to a year in jail for having sworn falsely to a grand jury that he had not been associated with Rattenni.118
In a Forbes magazine article, DeMarco was quoted as dismissing any suggestion that his enterprises are mob controlled. “Unfortunately, in this country you sometimes suffer for the sins of your father. Our company gives good value for the dollar,” he said.119
That violations occurred at the Al Turi landfill during the first years of DeMarco’s ownership is evident from the record.120 However, DeMarco would probably reply that his was not the only landfill guilty of violations.
DEC was aware of the possible organized crime connections when it granted DeMarco a permit to open the new Al Turi landfill, as is evident in the letter that the General Counsel of the New York State Senate Select Committee on Crime sent DEC Commissioner Flacke in June 1981. It is quoted almost in its entirety because of the explicitness of the warnings contained therein:
According to our information, the operators of the Al Turi Landfill in Goshen are Thomas and Nicholas Milo and Vincent DeVito. Thomas Milo is also the secretary-treasurer of Suburban Carting Corp. Thomas Milo’s two brothers, Nicholas and Vincent, are owners of DV Waste Control Corp., another garbage concern.
The Milo brothers are known to be associated with organized crime. Thomas Milo’s father and uncle have been identified by police intelligence as members of the Genovese crime family. Thomas Milo Sr., the uncle of Thomas Milo of Al Turi Landfill, was also named in the Valachi hearings. The involvement of organized crime in the garbage industry was discussed in a 1976 report of the New York State Attorney General’s Organized Crime Task Force.
Recently, Thomas Milo’s firm, Suburban Carting, bought out another carting firm, United Carting. The owner and operator of United Carting, was murdered on May 10, 1981, in Mt. Vernon. Corigliano’s partner, Leonard Charla, was also murdered seven weeks before. Police intelligence believes the murders were connected to a federal probe of the Westchester garbage industry, in which Corigliano and Charla may have been cooperating.
...One of Milo’s companies, DV Waste Control, purchased C&D Disposal Service from SCA Services, Inc. Jeffrey and Anthony Gaess were believed to be the principals in C&D Disposal. [See Section Nine for the story on Gaess.] Your agency is currently involved in cleaning up an illegal dump at Harriman, New York, which had been run by the Gaess brothers. DV Waste Control has also purchased routes from Dutchess Sanitation Services, Inc., which is owned and operated by the notorious Matthew lanniello, the reputed czar of the illegal sex industry in New York City.
Our committee has received raw intelligence which we are not at liberty to disclose at this time because it is unconfirmed that the Al Turi Landfill has been the site of extensive toxic waste dumping. There are investigations currently underway by the Organized Crime Strike Task Force of the Southern District of New York into illegal dumping at the Al Turi Landfill as well as an investigation into toxic waste dumping by New Jersey firms at New York sites, among them the Al Turi Landfill. Unfortunately, we estimate these investigations will not result in public action for probably another year.
We recognize your quandary over the continuing operation of the Al Turi Landfill by Milo. We suggest that the operations there be carefully monitored.121
What safeguards has DEC put in place? What has it done about monitoring the site?
DeMarco’s permit required him to pay $1,800 per month into an escrow fund to be used by DEC as a form of insurance in the event that “adverse environmental impacts are encountered” and DeMarco’s corporation becomes insolvent. In 1985 the monthly payment was increased to $2,700.122 But by October 1988, when his permit expires, DeMarco will have paid in approximately $150,000, a sum that would scarcely pay costs of long-term monitoring and would be obviously inadequate if pollution problems should develop at the site in the future. (DEC has estimated that the cost for cleaning up a hazardous waste site averages between $6 million and $8 million.) Furthermore, the $325,000 bond that DeMarco was required to post for monitoring the earlier section of the landfill, which is now listed as a site that may have received hazardous waste, will eventually be reduced by annual amounts of $20,000. A final bond of $85,000 will be held by DEC for a minimum five-year period before being returned.123
While the security DeMarco has been required to put up would hardly be sufficient in the event of problems developing later, it does represent an improvement over a few years ago, when the State had no means of redress in such cases. DEC does require that DeMarco submit an analysis of groundwater samples to the Department on a quarterly basis, but these samples are taken by an engineering firm hired by DeMarco, the same firm, it should be noted, that designed the landfill. This is clearly not an ideal monitoring situation. The firm doing the analysis not only works for DeMarco but is being asked, in effect, to look for defects for which it would have been responsible as the engineering firm hired by DeMarco to construct the landfill. In September 1985 the agency took steps to improve the situation. With the exception of a few haulers who are required to have permits to transport industrial wastes to the landfill, DEC has had no authority to permit garbage haulers disposing wastes at Al Turi. Nor has the agency had any idea which hauling companies were using the site. Until this year staff shortages had prevented the agency from inspecting the site more than once a year.124
In September 1985, however, the Department imposed additional permit conditions, including the requirement that DeMarco pay for an on-site monitor and the random sampling of incoming waste. The monitor will oversee landfill activities, but only during normal operating hours. The sampling must be done within the restraints of a fund of $7,000 to $8,500 a year, which severely limits the effectiveness of the monitoring, as a single analysis of the 129 priority pollutants costs approximately $1,000. However, although DeMarco has been paying toward the monitor, DEC has not yet put a monitor in place, but advises that this will occur in June 1986.125
The present Al Turi landfill owner conforms with DEC regulations and has agreed to put in place safeguards requested by DEC. The landfill meets DEC standards and is superior to many other landfills still in operation. It is also superior to most municipal landfills in the State. It performs a quarterly groundwater analysis; it pays for an on-site monitor and random sampling of incoming wastes, and is also paying $2,700 per month into an escrow fund to be used by DEC in the event adverse environmental impacts should be encountered.
Nevertheless, it is owned and operated by individuals with records of previous violations and who are involved with associates, some of whom have criminal records and/or are reputed to be connected to the Genovese-Tieri crime family.
Moreover, the orignal Al Turi landfill is known to have been contaminated with hazardous wastes. DeMarco, the present owner, expanded operations there to include industrial wastes. He was fined for dumping industrial wastes in the new section before the purchase was completed, but the fine was suspended by DEC on the basis of his complying with conditions set forth by DEC (see page 69 for discussion of consent decrees).
The on-site monitoring that DeMarco is already paying for was not installed by DEC until June 1986. Groundwater pollution is being monitored by the same firm hired by DeMarco to design the landfill site, which amounts to asking it to verify the adequacy of its own design. The escrow fund that has been agreed on will be grossly inadequate if remediation does become necessary at a future date.
There is no question that DEC has been hampered in its handling of landfills by both manpower and budgetary constraints, but we would not argue that the elimination, of the problem lies simply in increasing funding and personnel.
In the case of the Al Turi landfill, DEC had moved too cautiously in imposing stricter permit conditions. However, it is necessary to point out that with so many of the State’s landfills out of compliance with regulations, DEC would have been put in a difficult position if it refused a permit to an operator who yielded to its demands and installed features in the landfill that to this day are not included in most municipal landfills.
At the moment, the agency is taking a stronger position than it has in the past, but there are continuing pressures from industry lobbyists and cost-conscious people in government to diminish DEC’s activity in pollution control.
JAMES FRATIANNO, FORMER LCN CAPO, UNDER FEDERAL WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM, TALKS TO THE PRESIDENT'S CRIME COMMISSION
Q. Now, Mr. Fratianno, once you obtained the rank of capo and ultimately became the boss of the Los Angeles family, was there any way that you as the boss of the family were able to keep track of the income, the money made by your subordinates in the family?
A. Well, no, you don’t keep track. You just put people there that you can trust, members of the family or sometimes you use front men, but you don’t keep records. That was proven when they found that slip with Frank Costello.
Q. Now, as individual members of a particular family earned income, is there any requirement in any way that that member of the family pass a certain percentage of this money on up the ladder to the capo, for example, and ultimately to the boss?
A. Not necessarily, no. It all depends how you make the money or if it’s - what the amount is. You are more or less on your own. If you only make a few thousand dollars, they don’t bother you. If you make three-four hundred thousand, that is another story. You would have to go to the boss and he would take - you know, split it up the way he saw fit.
Q. When you were the boss of the family in Los Angeles, were you able or did you find it necessary to know the income of your family as a whole in order to run the family and control the family?
A. No, a lot of people in the family had their own legitimate businesses and what they made was their business. The only thing we were involved in was the illegal activities. In other words, shylocking, bookmaking, labor racketeering, extortion. We knew what was going on with that end of the situation.126
York State Organized Crime Task Force (hereafter OCTF) former Assistant Attorney General John C. Fine, New York, NY, May 29, 1980, pp. 18-19, 477.