"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.
THE SCOPE OF THIS REPORT
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|
IS THE PROBLEM A REAL ONE?
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.
ORGANIZED CRIME NOT ONLY
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.
POLLUTION: A 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.
GOVERNMENT ATTEMPTS TO RESPOND
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.
THE RESPONSE FROM
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
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.
USING THE BENCHMARK,
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.
WHAT ARE THE FACTORS
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.
WHY HAS NOT GOVERNMENT
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
Trottown Transfer, Inc.
Suburban Carting of Northern
C.C. Boyce and Sons, Inc.
Automated Waste Disposal, Inc.
F & H Sanitation
|*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
Thomas Milo Jr., DeMarco's business partner in several carting ventures and previously at Al Turi, is related to known organized crime ?gures.127 Nevertheless, DeMarco claims to resent implications that his partner is anything but an honest businessman.128
"My partner is not organized crime," he says flatly. "I've been his partner for a number of years."129
He says that Milo is a college graduate with an accounting degree, whose only handicap is that he had a father and uncle that were in the policy or numbers business. DeMarco, himself well-travelled, college-educated and seemingly quite knowledge- able on environmental and health issues, challenges vigorously the public's perception that the garbage industry is controlled by organized crime. 130
In the case of Thomas Milo, however, the authorities can hardly be blamed for being concerned about his activities. He has been linked to organized crime by local and State law enforcement officials,131 and he has been involved heavily in a complex web of relationships with a substantial cast of notorious bad actors about whom more will be said in subsequent sections of this report.132
Suburban Carting Corporation, owned jointly by DeMarco and Thomas Milo Jr., has become the predominant carter in Westchester and Putnam counties, primarily by buying out its competition. Town and county officials and the residents of Putnam County have expressed concern that as smaller carters disappear, they will be forced to do business with Suburban or its subsidiaries and will face huge rate increases for garbage disposal. The county is in a particularly vulnerable position because it has few waste disposal options. Five of the six townships in Putnam had operated their own landfills, but over a year ago three of the facilities were closed because they had reached capacity or were in violation of State regulations. The residents of Kent and Southeast are at the mercy of Suburban and its subsidiary, F&H Sanitation, which transports their garbage across the Connecticut border to a disposal site owned by the multinational Waste Management, Inc., in New Milford.
Putnam Valley has constructed a temporary transfer station and contracts with Suburban to take its waste to Al Turi.
F&H was also involved in a suspicious situation in the Town of Carmel when it submitted a bid identical to that submitted by Nello Carting. The owner of Nello Carting had previously sold his former carting concern, Cross County Sanitation, to Suburban Carting, the parent company of F&H. The town board established a bifurcated garbage district and was to give each of the carters one-half of the business. The townspeople suspected collusion, noting the connections between Suburban Carting, F&H and the owner of Nello Carting. They sued the town, but unsuccessfully. The judge ruled that the town had followed the law in executing the bidding procedures. The residents went to the Attorney General and this matter is still being investigated.133
The county had been considering a plan to construct a transfer station, but now it is leaning toward a resource recovery operation as its garbage solution. The contract for the transfer station would have gone to bid. (According to Ed Burke, confidential aide to Putnam County Executive, David Bruen, DeMarco and James Galante had warned that if Suburban Carting was not awarded the bid, Putnam might face problems in finding a waste disposal site.134)
Suburban Carting was one of the carters alleged to have dumped hazardous wastes illegally at the Kessman dump in the Town of Patterson. (The Kessman dump will be discussed in Section Six.) In that particular case, Suburban Carting, along with other carters, had simply ignored the town's requirements that those using the site obtain permits and abide by the town's prohibition on the disposal of industrial wastes there.
Tommy Milo was also linked by Kaufman to a location in the Village of Kerhonkson in Ulster County, where mob-related companies paid off an employee to accept hazardous wastes illegally.135
Using Kaufman's description of the site location, DEC tentatively considered the site in question to be the current Town of Wawarsing municipal landfill but has not been able to confirm this.136 According to Kaufman, among the companies who disposed of commingled waste at this site in the late 1970s were those owned by Thomas Milo, the Mongellis and SCA.137 The Mongelli and SCA operations are discussed in detail in later sections.
It is worthwhile to look at some of Milo's other relationships.
Thomas Milo's brother, Nicholas, is co-owner of DV Waste Control Corporation, located next to the Al Turi landfill, which he also formerly owned in partnership with Vincent DeVito. Vincent DeVito, who is also Thomas Milo's brother-in-law, incorporated the company in 1972.138 According to Kaufman, DV Waste Control is an informal partnership with Nick Rattenni Jr. to monopolize the upstate garbage industry all the way down to Westchester County.139 As part of the arrangement, the Mongelli family, through Mario "The Shadow" Gigante (whom police sources have put within the leadership of the Genovese-Tieri crime syndicate),140 has made peace with Milo and Rattenni and coexists in a property rights setup with thern.141
Rattenni money had backed the rapid expansion of DV Waste Control.142 As of l984, DV Waste Control had acquired at least 9,000 residential customers and 800 commercial accounts in Orange County. With its 24 trucks it has expanded into Dutchess, Sullivan and Ulster counties, buying up numerous "Mom and Pop" companies along the way.
It is also noted that DV Waste Control shared in the past the same telephone number as Dutchess Sanitation Services, Inc., and the same post office box as Ryan Sanitation.144
Several years after the creation of DV Waste Control, DeVito was arrested by the FBI with John Dinino for extortion and conspiracy arising out of loansharking. Both were sentenced to one year in prison. John Dinino is a brother-in-law of Anthony Desiervi, who was prosecuted in 1975 by the U.S. Attorney, Southern District of New York, for his involvement in a gambling scheme. Desiervi is a nephew of Joseph Pagano,145 who is, according to Kaufman, a top-ranking member of the Genovese family who controls upstate for the family and reports to Tieri146(see page 30).
Another codefendant in the case was the same Mario Gigante mentioned above, who was the brother of "Chin" Gigante who attempted to kill Frank Costello and who has never been seen since.147 Where such relationships exist, law enforcement officials should find it only prudent to be concerned about the possibility of further criminal activity.
There are other dubious associations that can be traced.
In 1978 Thomas Milo's brother, Nicholas, purchased part of the Ianniello/Fiorillo hauling business, Dutchess Sanitation Services.148 Ianniello and Joseph Fiorillo Sr. both have had trouble with the law.149 Nicholas Milo and another brother, Joseph, own J.T. Recycling, Inc., and leased the Fiorillo landfill in Poughkeepsie, which has had a history of violations150 that will be discussed in detail in Section Five.
Matthew ("Matty the Horse") Ianniello and Joseph Fiorillo Sr. are both on the U.S. Attorney General's list as known racketeers and members of the Genovese-Tieri crime family151 As mentioned in the previous section, they have been indicted on more than one occasion for their criminal activities. In 1971 Ianniello was held in contempt for failure to answer questions before a Manhattan grand jury investigating police corruption. He was fined $1,500 and sentenced to one year in prison, but the sentence was suspended.152 He was also arrested in Miami, Florida, in 1973 with Benjamin Cohen and charged with filing a fraudulent tax return. However, when the two men obtained a change of venue to New York, where the case was tried, the charges were dismissed.153 Ianniello was also named as an unindicted coconspirator in U.S. v. Anthony Provenzano ("Tony Pro") and Anthony Bentro (U.S. District Court, Southern District, New York). In this case, he was also among those cited in a scheme to receive kickbacks for obtaining illegal loans in excess of $2 million from the Teamsters pension fund.154
The indictments against Ianniello and Cohen extended beyond the garbage removal business. As mentioned earlier, they were convicted in February 1986 for skimming millions of dollars from midtown Manhattan restaurants and bars as part of a federal tax- evasion scheme.155 Ianniello is reportedly a main conduit for underworld finances into and out of midtown businesses, where he owns a network of companies that reportedly control the restaurant and bar trade in that part of the City. The indictments also charged Ianniello and Cohen with violations of State Liquor Authority regulations. The men were alleged to have hidden their ownership in these establishments from the authorities by using fronts as owners to obtain their liquor licenses.156 Joseph Fiorillo Sr. has a record of several arrests for felonious assault, including the assault of a State Police officer.157 He has been connected to the Genovese-Tieri crime family through his relationship with the now-deceased elder Rattenni. Fiorillo's son is a godchild of Nicholas Rattenni.158
For two decades Ianniello, Benjamin Cohen and the Fiorillo brothers, Joseph, Anthony, Michael and Vincent, owned the largest garbage company in the Mid-Hudson region -- Dutchess Sanitation Services, Inc.159 This included a carting company, a compacting and baling operation and two private landfills -- Dutchess County Sanitation Landfill in Poughkeesie in Dutchess County and Hertel's in Plattekill in Ulster County, both of which are on the inactive Hazardous Waste Site Registry. With the ownership of these combined operations came the opportunity to wield tremendous control over prices. It was in the late 1970s that Suburban Carting and DV Waste Control purchased the Fiorillo's hauling business and Nicholas and Joseph Milo began leasing the Fiorillo's Poughkeepsie landfill, which was closed in September 1984.160
In February 1985 the Fiorillos -- along with Matthew Ianniello, Benjamin Cohen and Michael Marchini -- were indicted by a federal grand jury in Manhattan and charged with racketeering offenses under the federal Racketeering Influence and Corruption Organization (RICO) Law. They had all been charged with misrepresenting the ownership of their waste removal companies to obtain New York City carting licenses illegally. They were also accused of using front companies to obtain waste removal contracts worth millions of dollars from Consolidated Edison. U.S. District Attorney Rudolph Giuliani had asked for the forfeiture of all assets held by the six men through their carting companies, Consolidated Carting, Fiorillo Brothers and Tri-Compaction, in addition to $1 million to $2 million for each defendant.161 The indictments culminated a two-year investigation conducted by the Internal Revenue Service, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office.162 On May 14, 1986, the six men were acquitted on the racketeering charges, but the record of the case provides a treasure trove of testimonial proof of the property rights system.163 (See staff notes for further comments.)
The Consolidated Edison case deserves recounting in some detail.
In 1973 Consolidated Carting was licensed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) to operate as a garbage collector in the metropolitan area. DCA requires applicants for carting licenses to disclose the names of all officers, directors and stockholders of such corporations in order to assist the agency in determining the qualifications and fitness of the applicants.
At that time, Consolidated Carting had the Con Edison contract for waste removal in Manhattan and the Bronx, but in 1975 Northeast Sanitation Services, Inc., successfully underbid Consolidated Carting and obtained the contract for all five boroughs. One year later DCA revoked Consolidated Carting's license because of an unauthorized change in corporate ownership and the presence of "undesirable elements" among the company's owners. Ianniello, Cohen and the Fiorillos are charged with falsifying information on the application forms to indicate a transfer of stock by which they purportedly gave up their ownership interests in Consolidated Carting in order for it to obtain a DCA license.164
It has been Con Edison's practice to avoid soliciting bids from carters who the utility believed were controlled or operated by persons with criminal records or criminal associations. The utility had decided in 1978 not to solicit a bid from Consolidated Carting because Vincent Fiorillo had been convicted of a federal felony and the carting company was part of a criminal organization.165 Consolidated Carting was owned by Rodan Industries, which, in turn, was owned by Dutchess Sanitation.166
From 1978 to 1980 Ianniello, Cohen and the Fiorillos allegedly obtained disposal contracts from Con Edison by using Atlas Sanitation -- owned by Michael Marchini -- as a front company. For two and one-half years Atlas received about $700,000 from Con Edison, of which §400,000 was kicked back to Consolidated Carting, Fiorillo Brothers and Tri-Compaction.167 Earlier it was mentioned that Consolidated Carting had lost the Con Edison contract in 1975 to Northeast Sanitation, the same company Thomas Milo was alleged to have used as a front to obtain the utility's contract. Both Milo and the Fiorillos were accused of using the same device -- a phony front company to obtain contracts denied to them. The indictment further alleged that from 1980 to 1985 Ianniello and the others used P&F Trucking as a front to obtain the lucrative Con Edison contract. P&F Trucking reportedly received more than $3 million for the Con Edison work and paid more than $1.5 million to the defendants through their companies.168
The defendants were also charged with bid-rigging. The grand jury claimed they induced other carters to refrain from bidding on the Con Edison contract and encouraged
them to submit artificially inflated bids. Vincent Fiorillo was charged with using force, violence and fear to obtain the Con Edison contracts, which had been awarded to Village Carting and Coney Island Rubbish Removal.169
Thomas Milo, like Ianniello, the Fiorillos and Cohen, has had a run in with the law regarding a Con Edison waste removal contract.
In 1977 Milo was indicited in Queens on bribery charges in connection with a Con
Edison garbage removal contract. Suburban Carting had arranged for Northeast Sanitation Company of Long Island to obtain the contract for work that Suburban Carting was
actually doing. When Con Edison officials discovered that they were being misled as to
which firm was actually handling the refuse removal, it was arranged for a police
detective posing as a Con Edison representative to meet with Milo to discuss the
situation. According to the indictment, Milo offered a bribe of $4,500 to the supposed
Con Edison official,170 but the indictment did not stand up in court as the conversation the detective had taped at the meeting was not of sufficient quality to corroborate the detective's own testimony.171
Looking at the pattern of activities in which Thomas Milo has been involved and the reputations of many of his associates, it is difficult to share DeMarco's expressed confidence in Milo's integrity, especially since Milo's own behavior has led to indictments against him.
Indeed, considering what is known about the methods of organized crime in this country, it is more natural to conclude that Milo's role fits in with the classical Cosa Nostra pattern of installing an insider to oversee an operation run by a "straw" man -- in this case, DeMarco.
Granting the possibility that organized crime controls the Al Turi landfill, a problem still remains for a regulatory agency seeking to prevent violations of the law. If the landfill does, indeed, represent state-of-the-art technology and does comply fully with the regulations of the State, on what basis can the owners be denied a permit to operate, especially when it is superior to the hundreds of noncomplying municipal landfills against whom the State has been reluctant in the past to take action?
A regulatory agency may wish to argue that so long as it is making certain that its regulations are being rigorously adhered to, it has no jurisdiction for punishing known organized crime figures for their other illicit operations; that is a job for the appropriate law enforcement agency.
On the other hand, the presence of a large number of organized crime figures in the solid and hazardous waste industry has to be a cause for great concern. The network of relationships that these racketeers have set up is so extensive that it dominates the industry. This, plus the use of threats and intimidation, makes for a particularly vicious type of unregulated monopoly, which not only causes unnecessary economic penalties for both businesses and consumers, but undermines the moral fabric of society. In this section we have traced only some of those relationships. In subsequent sections the web's extensiveness will be further explored.
At the heart of the alleged racketeering enterprises was the use of front companies to mislead Con Edison into believing that it was not dealing with carting companies suspected of being involved with organized crime.
A posttrial analysis of the acquittal by the chief prosecutor was that the jury was not willing to convict the defendants in the face of the possibility that Con Edison knew, or should have known, with whom they were dealing. Con Ed was having its garbage picked up and suffered no economic harm.172
If the jury was not convinced that an offense under the Racketeering Influence and Corruption Organization (RICO) Act had been proved, the evidence of a massive antitrust violation nevertheless cried out for action. For example, wiretap evidence of a conversation between Jimmy Fiorillo and a Long Island carter show Fiorillo, as a property rights boss, laying down the law in a case in which the carter was claiming the right to pick up garbage at a Pergament store that had been built at a site where the carter previously had picked up garbage from a flea market.173
In the face of this extensive evidence of antitrust activities, a question can be raised about the Justice Department's decision to prosecute these defendants under RICO rather than under antitrust laws.
The door of the marketplace must be forced open to allow for a free-market cure of the property rights problem. With the release of this report, the chairman of this committee is calling on State and federal law enforcement authorities to launch a full- scale investigation and prosecution to break up this underground network that is bleeding the economy of New York City.
If law enforcement efforts cannot solve the problem, then it will have been demonstrated in a most persuasive way that this vital industry can no longer be left to the private sector and that public takeover of New York City's commercial solid waste industry should be considered as an alternative.
This section traces the failures of police and regulatory authorities in two cases of environmental pollution where they knew that organized crime figures were involved but were either negligent or, for a variety of reasons, unable to act as strongly as the situations required. We will recount the stories in some detail because they effectively dramatize the weaknesses of conventional regulatory controls when confronted by deliberate and determined opposition by criminal groups. The events described have been tightly compressed but should repay the attentive reader with a heightened sense of the stubbornness of the problem.
Both cases involve Dutchess Sanitation Services, Incorporated.
It was mentioned earlier that for almost 20 years Matty Ianniello and his partners, Joseph, Anthony, Michael and Vincent Fiorillo, and Benjamin Cohen, operated the largest garbage disposal company in the Mid-Hudson region -- Dutchess Sanitation Services, Inc. Joseph Fiorillo Sr. and his son, Joseph Jr., managed the carting concern and two waste disposal sites, one in Dutchess and the other in Ulster County. Although the Fiorillos operated both landfills in chronic violation of the State Environmental Conservation Law, the State Sanitary Code and local zoning ordinances, they were able to thwart for years every attempt by State and county officials to prosecute them for their actions. Neither disposal area is now in use, but the pernicious effects of years of illegal hazardous waste dumping is now clear: both the Dutchess County and Ulster County landfills are listed on the State's registry of inactive hazardous waste sites and both have also been placed on the National Priority List for federal Superfund monies.
Although the Fiorillos managed Dutchess Sanitation, Matty Ianniello's financial backing was heavily involved.
Ianniello, now 65, is highly regarded in underworld circles for his financial abilities. As mentioned earlier, he was sentenced only this year to six years in prison for tax evastion in connection with his activities in Manhattan. It was several years ago that he emerged as the dominant figure in the takeover of much of the midtown restaurant and bar business in New York City through a network of companies, which either own the establishments or provide them with a wide variety of support services. His American and foreign interests have included hotels, gambling establishments, a talent agency that provided topless dancers for bars, an interior decorating concern and vending machine companies. His nickname, "The Horse," apparently derives from his hulking five-foot ll- inch, 220-pound build.174
Joseph Fiorillo Sr. is on record as claiming not to be concerned about the ties of Ianniello and Cohen to the Genovese-Tieri family. He claims they bought into this firm when he was in trouble and needed the money.175
The site in Dutchess County where the Fiorillos were dumping their garbage consists of 30 acres near a populated residential area in the Town of Poughkeepsie. Several commercial establishments and five families within a 500-foot radius of the site
rely on wells for their water.176 There are two disposal sites on the property; the first operated from 1967 to 1980; the second, which opened in 1980, was closed in 1984.177
In 1979, during a DEC permit hearing, the Dutchess County Health Department summarized its 13-year experience with the Fiorillo operation, complaining that "hundreds of man hours" had been spent in attempting to make the Fiorillos comply with the law:
Numerous complaints have been received from area residents, countless inspections of the property have been conducted, field conferences with the applicant have been held and Orders have been issued. Nevertheless, this operation has, in the opinion of this Department, been conducted illegally to this day.178
The Health Department stated that the potential for ground and surface water contamination was "substantial" and that a "deposition of hazardous and toxic waste was a distinct possiblity."179
This statement was the culmination of a series of confrontations that had occurred between the Fiorillos and the authorities.
The Fiorillos were determined to make it difficult for the Dutchess County Department of Health and the local police to make an accurate assessment of what was taking place at the landfill. A Health Department memo of June 24, 1977, reads:
Went to inspect area of illegal deposition about 12 noon today and talked to Joseph Fiorillo, Jr. He wouldn't allow me on the property to make an inspection.180
Three days later the Health Department engineers appeared with an officer from the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department:
We were refused entrance to premises ... for the purpose of making an inspection by both Joseph Fiorillo, Sr., and Jr., and their attorney, Mr. Sedenhorn.181
One day later another memo reads:
We were refused entrance ... for the purpose of making an inspection at about 11:30 a.m. by Mr. Joseph Fiorillo, Sr. He stated we were to call before arriving to make an inspection.182
In July the Health Department arrived with equipment to dig test holes to determine subsurface conditions at the site but were refused permission by Joseph Fiorillo Sr., although on this occasion he did allow them to inspect the property.183
A week later, after a meeting with the county executive, the Fiorillos' lawyer wrote to the County Board of Health, saying that the Fiorillos agreed to permit inspections at any time.184
At the beginning of August the New York Times broke the story of the Genovese-Tieri tie-in through Ianniello and his chief financial adviser, Benjamin Cohen.185 A week later the Poughkeepsie Journal followed up the story with an editorial calling on the Dutchess County District Attorney John R. King to convene a grand jury to investigate the company.186 The day after the editorial appeared, the Dutchess County Health
Department ordered the company to close its Poughkeepsie dump "based on the belief that a clear and present public health hazard existed with the continued operation of the facility."187
The Health Department issued the Fiorillos a $7,500 fine, with a provision that $6,500 would be forgiven if they complied with the order within 24 hours. The Fiorillos were also ordered to demonstrate that the wastes already buried at the landfill were unlikely to cause a health hazard or contamination. If a problem existed, the Fiorillos would be required to remove the wastes to an acceptable site. Failure to abide by the provisions of the order were punishable to penalties of up to $500 per day.188
That order, however, was never enforced. According to the present Dutchess County Attorney Stephen Wing, the sheriff's department was responsible for enforcement and the sheriff at the time, Lawrence Quinlin, was "reluctant to enforce it."189 Reluctance to enforce is a pattern that emerges time and time again in environmental- pollution situations. Sometimes it is the sheriff's office, but just as often it has been the district attorney's office or the health department or DEC that is reluctant to use the powers it possesses.
On August ll the Poughkeepsie Journal carried a front-page story that District Attorney King had decided to initiate an inquiry into the alleged connection of Dutchess County Sanitation Services with organized crime.190 (This investigation, too, never took place.) That same day, however, Dutchess County Health Department officials and a Poughkeepsie police officer, seeking to inspect the site, were turned away by Fiorillo's son, who again advised that an appointment had to be made for inspections and that his father had to be present.191 This was in direct contradiction of what their own attorney had promised.
By 1978 the Poughkeepsie dump had reached capacity and the Fiorillos applied for a permit to construct and operate another site adjacent to the existing one. At a meeting between the Fiorillos, DEC, the Dutchess County Health Department and the county attorney, there was a general discussion regarding the adequacy of the application in meeting State requirements. The discussion eventually broke down, according to an internal memorandum, "because of verbal abuse and threats by Joseph Fiorillo, Sr."192
On April 9, 1980, a conference was held between Dutchess Sanitation, the Dutchess County Health Department and DEC "for the purpose of attaining voluntary compliance by the company at the Poughkeepsie site prior to formal enforcement action." Present were Joseph Fiorillo Sr., Joseph and Nicholas Milo and Richard Pascale, who would be the operators of the new landfill. The company's violations were discussed in detail and Fiorillo, the Milos and Pascale insisted they would comply in the future.193 (As of 1984, Nicholas Milo and Richard Pascale were the owners of DV Waste and Ryan Sanitation.194)
The operation of the expanded Poughkeepsie site under the new management team did not improve. Tractor-trailers with "dripping cargo," bearing the names "Ryan" and "Leeds," were seen entering the site in the middle of the night.195
A Dutchess County Health Department memorandum relating to the situation, dated July 15, 1981, is a good illustration of the reluctance with which officials took action:
... I had a telephone conversation with Joseph Milo ... during which I specifically asked him about Ryan and Leeds' trucks at the site at 2:00
A.M., with dripping cargo. He stated that Ryan is a familiar name to him but not Leeds and that he would check that further.
Mr. Milo further stated that Ryan does deliver full roll-off loads to the yard and picks up empty roll-off trailers. Because it is easier, he does that at certain locations during the middle of the night due to traffic congestion during the day. No vehicle goes on the landfill other than during operating hours as there is a large compactor parked so as to bar access. There is also on the site an armed guard from 8:00 P.M. to 3:00 A.M. six days a week, with the regular crew arriving at 3:30 A.M. to 4:00 A.M. six days a week.196
The flaunting of the law by those involved in the Poughkeepsie landfill operation had taken another turn, however, which DEC was to learn about only later on. On June 2, 1980, 13 days after obtaining the initial permits to expand the Poughkeepsie operation substantially, the Fiorillos, Ianniello and Cohen dissolved Dutchess Sanitation Services, lnc., and transferred their property to a new consortium, named F.I.C.A., representing the three principals.197
This tactic of dissolving companies and then forming new ones to conduct precisely the same business is used frequently to throw the authorities off the trail.
This time, inasmuch as DEC had never been notified of the change, the permit to operate the landfill was issued, in effect, in the name of a nonexistent corporation.
In an interagency memo, dated November 7, 1980, Val E. Washington, Regional Attorney, Region 3, DEC, described in terms that must be characterized as remarkable in their understatement, the "questionable business practices" of Dutchess County Sanitation Services, Inc., and its attorney, Steven A. Greenwold. Washington noted that after the permits had been issued:198
In early September I received a tip from a reporter that Dutchess Sanitation Services, Inc., was no longer an entity. It was checked and confirmed, with the Corporation Search Unit of the Department of State, that the corporation voluntarily dissolved following receipt of its permits from the Department. Further, as the attached certificate verified, it is clear that Mr. Greenwold was the attorney who filed the dissolution. I then called Mr. Greenwold who expressed unhappiness at our 'having found out,' and proceeded to provide his assurances that the dissolution was for accounting purposes only and that the officers of the corporation were still the principles but had now formed a partnership to be known as F.I.C.A. I explained my concern that there were extant: (1) three permits in the name of a non-existent corporation, (2) a request for a permit from the same corporation, and (3) bonds for $75,000 purporting to cover Dutchess Sanitation Services, Inc., and therefore, arguably worthless.
(1) the dissolution was filed on June 2nd, yet by mid-September, the Department had not been made aware of it -- and, in fact, might still be in the dark had it not been for a tip.
(2) Subsequent to the dissolution Mr. Greenwold continued to represent his client as Dutchess Sanitation Services, Inc. (in my file are
copies of three letters signed by Mr. Greenwold referring to the company by that name), knowing full well there was no such entity.
(3) Greenwold obtained bonds, pursuant to the permit requirements, in the name of Dutchess Sanitation after the dissolution.
(4) In his explanatory letter Greenwold insists that the partnership succeded the corporation as the responsible party, yet a partnership certificate was not filed until July 1980, one month after the corporation was dissolved.
(5) ... It is likely that the validity of the bond assuring fulfillment of the obligation in this case would be at issue had it remained in the name of the defunct corporation.
(6) The knowing use of a nonexistent business name is a misdemeanor pursuant to the Section 130 of the General Business Law and Mr. Greenwold, being an attorney, should be particularly sensitive to the avoidance of behavior that even gives the appearance of impropriety.199
Both the attorney of the regional DEC office and the director recommended that the department file a formal complaint against Greenwold with the Disciplinary Commit- tee of the Appellate Division, but again, those in position to act did not pursue the matter.200 Nor did the incident deter the department from transferring the pertinent permits to the new corporation, which was granted permission to operate the landfill until June 30, 1983.201
At the time the transfer of property was made, Dutchess County was involved in a lawsuit with Dutchess Sanitation, claiming the company had defaulted on a contract to bale garbage at the county airport. The county filed a lis pendens on property owned by F.I.C.A. and argued that the transfer between the two corporations was done for the purpose of avoiding payment of debts and should be ruled fraudulent. On February 22, 1982, the Appellate Division of the Second Department affirmed the lower court's decision that the transfer should be set aside as fraudulent.202 The county's outstanding judgment against Dutchess Sanitation was for $80,000. However, the county legislature interceded, ostensibly in order to avoid further litigation, and chose to negotiate an agreement with Dutchess Sanitation whereby the county would accept payment of $50,000 and ignore the remaining debt. No action was taken to set aside the deed.203
In 1983 the landfill was illegally expanded, and by the spring of 1984, DEC ordered it to stop accepting refuse and to restrict incoming wastes to construction and demolition debris until the site was properly graded. The consent order cited numerous violations of State landfill regulations. The Fiorillos were warned that if the daily operation of the site was not improved, DEC would prosecute. F.I.C.A. was ordered to pay a $10,000 penalty for the illegal expansion.204
A Department of Helath memo, dated January 31, 1984, reveals that:
On January 27, 1984, at about 12 noon-l2:45 p.m. I made an inspection at the FICA Landfill. The situation is at its worst -- garbage uncovered, garbage and construction and demolition debris is being mixed on site -- demolition is being piled into a 'mountain' on top of a 'mountain.' Shale being used for cover -- litter everywhere -- leachate flowing at toe
of slope on old area. Operator stated he has 'equipment problems.' I have heard this for three months-
Inspected on January 30, 1984, with Ed Cassidy of DEC New Paltz -- conditions at that time were as bad or worse.205
On September 22, 1984, a major fire broke out at the landfill. It lasted a full month. The Arlington Fire Department poured eight million gallons of water onto the site in fighting the blaze. Most of the water running off the surface and leaching from the landfill ran directly into the Casperkill Creek, a tributary of the Hudson River.206
Analysis of the leachate showed extraordinarily high levels of numerous toxic chemicals (see table, Appendix C). However, the groundwater-monitoring wells that the department relies on have never been monitored for the toxic contaminants that have been found in the leachate. This was remarkable, as testing will only discover the presence or absence of the contaminants that are being monitored, and DEC was testing only for conventional pollutants.207 Furthermore, any toxic chemicals that had been recently commingled at the site may not have had sufficient time to leach deeply enough.
Following the fire, construction and demolition debris continued to be brought into the site, and in March 1985 another fire broke out -- although a minor one, according to the department. Milo and the Fiorillos were ordered to close the operation and the case was referred to the Attorney General for enforcement proceedings.
Finally, in January l986 the Attorney General's office wrote Joseph, Vincent, Anthony and Michael Fiorillo, Nicholas Milo, Matthew Ianniello and Benjamin Cohen demanding a response under CERCLA* regarding hazardous wastes that may have been disposed of in the F.I.C.A. landfill and requiring them to give all pertinent data regarding source, type and quantity of such wastes.208
As of January l0, 1986, the Attorney General's office reported that the monitoring wells need rehabilitation, and site visits are required209 The response was to be returned by February 14, but as of the end of May no response had been received.
However, as of June 1986, Nicholas and Joseph Milo, as operators of the site, had begun negotiating with the Attorney General and DEC with respect to the investigation of the site. And they had hired a consultant.210
At the same time that Dutchess Sanitation was involved in this protracted dispute over the operation of its Poughkeepsie landfill, it was also involved in a similar situation in Ulster County.
In the early 1970s the Fiorillos began carting waste to an Ulster County landfill owned by Carlo Hertel, which had previously been used to dispose of local garbage211 Dutchess Sanitation expanded the operation significantly by dumping huge quantities of waste from other Hudson Valley counties at the Hertel site, which was located on an 80-acre parcel of land surrounded by and partly made up of freshwater wetlands. Approximately l,800 people within a three-mile radius of the site rely on wells for their drinking water.212 The Fiorillos' use of the site was in direct violation of a 1968 town ordinance prohibiting the importation of garbage from outside the boundaries of Plattekill.213 The Fiorillos and Hertel simply ignored the ordinance.
In addition to household garbage, the landfill accepted liquid industrial wastes. On one inspection, Ulster County Health Department personnel found 20 to 30 barrels of an oily sludge material and dyes stacked next to the wetland. The barrels were poorly sealed, some were broken and crushed. Waste material from DeLaval Separator and Western Publishing Company, two Poughkeepsie-based firms, were also routinely disposed of at the Plattekill landfill.214 The landfill continued to operate in chronic violation of the State Sanitary Code.215
In June 1975 Dutchess Sanitation purchased the landfill from Hertel216 and began to operate it itself. Here again they neglected to obtain the required DEC permit and were now known to DEC as conducting illegal operations in both Ulster and Dutchess counties.
In February 1976 the Fiorillos' consultant, Wehran Engineering, notified DEC that is clients were "sincerely interested in operating a first-class landfill," and would need another three to four months to submit all the information needed for a complete permit application.217 The department replied with a curious mixture of firmness (first paragraph below) and indecision (second paragraph):
Regrettably, the Fiorillos have failed to convince this office of their noble intentions and our recent reports indicate that the operation of the existing facility has deteriorated. Our records indicate that your firm was retained in August of 1975 and you are informing me that little, if any, work has been done on detailed plans for this site, since last October. As you may know, our experience with the private sector with regard to the timely submission of acceptable plans has not been encouraging. Procrastination, delay and a poor payment record to consulting engineers has resulted in the recall of plans and in some cases the refusal of consulting engineers to submit reports.
With these past experiences in mind, this office is not included to consider your request favorably at this time. Unfortunately, both Mr. Vernon and myself have been seriously pressed for time and have been unable to decide on an appropriate course of action. Our decision as to whether or not we will press for closure of this site should be made within the near future. You will, of course, be notified immediately of our decision.218
This was as good as a green light for the Fiorillos to continue the practice of dumping liquid industrial wastes. Waste-oils and printing ink219 were dumped directly into the freshwater wetlands220 at the headwaters of Black Creek,221 a popular fishing place and part of the groundwater system that provides drinking water for families living in Plattekill and Highland.
In April 1976 the Ulster County Health Department wrote DEC requesting that the agency take appropriate legal actions against the company for its continued violations. The Health Department then revoked the Fiorillos' hauler's permit for dumping out-of- town refuse on the site and for using trucks that were neither certified nor inspected by the department.222
DEC responded by holding a public hearing the following month. The complaint prepared by the department cited 27 violations of the State's landfill regulations and noted that the company could be subject to a civil penalty of up to $500 a day for each violation. The department also listed violations of the Freshwater Wetlands Act, which
were punishable by a civil penalty of up to $3,000 each. The department's counsel requested that the commissioner assess the appropriate penalties, order the site closed and require the Fiorillos to undertake a remedial program to control contamination at the site.223
During this same time period, the Fiorillos took on the Town of Plattekill and, in a calculated campaign of deliberate and repeated lawlessness, defied the town ordinance banning the importation of solid waste. There were reports at that time that citizens who complained to the authorites about the Fiorillos received threatening phone calls.224
In 1976 the town brought an action against Dutchess Sanitation to stop the company permanently from violating the ordinance. The ordinance forbade anyone from importing solid waste for disposal within the town.225
Ulster County Supreme Court Justice William Murray declared the ordinance unconstitutional. The town and local citizens appealed to the Appellate Division, which reversed Judge Murray and ordered a permanent ban.226 The Court of Appeals affirmed that decision;227 however, prior to Court of Appeals action, Dutchess Sanitation was able to obtain a stay from Judge Murray, blocking enforcement of the higher court order pending the appeal. The Ulster County assistant district attorney described the action as incredible. Brandishing the stay, Joseph Fiorillo Jr. proceeded with business as usual and continued to dump liquid waste and wet garbage at the site.228
In so doing the company was also ignoring a separate Supreme Court ruling that limited the type of refuse it could dump at the Plattekill site to dry trash. This led to the arrest of Joseph Fiorillo Jr., who was brought before the town justice and released on his own recognizance.229
Two days later Fiorillo's defiance continued. Wet refuse was again being dumped at the site. Fiorillo was again arrested. His reply was that he was "going to keep bringing it in."230 The following day four Dutchess Sanitation drivers were arrested; and the Ulster County district attorney vowed to continue arrests until the illegal dumping stopped.231
Throughout this face-off DEC did not shut down the operation but decided to await the outcome of the litigation.232
Based on a 1978 decision by the United States Supreme Court in an unrelated case, Dutchess Sanitation sought modification of the permanent injunction to the extent that it interfered with interstate commerce. In 1980 the Court of Appeals accepted this argument and sent the case back to the Supreme Court, based on their finding that the local ban on out-of-state importation was unconstitutional.233
Although the landfill was reportedly inactive, DEC nevertheless inspected the property in March 1977. They found oily floor sweepings had been dumped there after the site was closed and had created an oil-slick on the stream that runs through the site and feeds into Black Creek. The inspection also indicated that commercial and industrial refuse had been dumped.234 The inspector noted that he spoke to Joseph Fiorillo Jr. about the matter two days later and that Fiorillo pledged his "full cooperation" with the department.235
Shortly thereafter DEC notified Fiorillo that it was "analyzing alternative courses of legal action available to it." Before taking action, however, the department indicated it would meet with the company to "discuss the plans for compliance with the law and to
establish a timetable for such compliance." Fiorillo was asked to prepare a report on the progress he had made in the preparation of his permit application and on his efforts to comply with the State's landfill regulations.236
Four years later, in March 1981, the attorney for the Town of Plattekill notified DEC that two residents living near the Hertel site had contaminated wells and that other landowners bordering on the Hertel site had also experienced contamination of their water systems.237 The two private wells tested contained the same contaminants as were identified later in samples taken of the groundwater underneath the Hertel site.
Mrs. Hertel, who held the mortgage on the property for the Fiorillos, foreclosed and repossessed the property.238 In May 1981 DEC brought an enforcement action against Angelina Hertel, as the site owner.239 The deed was transferred to her son, who formed Hudson Valley Environmental Services, Inc., with two partners, Michael Spada and James Licari.240
That same year Hudson Valley Environmental Services applied to DEC to reopen the site and expand the size of the landfill from 75 to 455 acres. As new owner, Andrew Hertel would acquire the liability for cleaning up the site, and he agreed to enter into an order on consent with the department to begin remedial work on the landfill. The court required Hertel to post a $30,000 bond with DEC to ensure the placement of intermediate cover material on the site. If groundwater testing were to reveal the presence of hazardous wastes, the order could be modified and more extensive remedial measures required.241
Two months later the bond still had not been posted, but test results showed groundwater contamination and the presence of hazardous wastes at the site, although not in quantities that would allow the cautious department to constitute them "a significant threat to the environment."242
As of this date the consent order remains in effect, although Hertel has still failed to post bond. No further analysis of site conditions has been performed. As in the case with the Dutchess County landfill, the Attorney General initiated proceedings against the Hertel landfill in the spring of 1985 after the site had been placed on the federal National Priority List (NPL).243 Hertel's application to expand the site is still pending. That application has been and will continue to be opposed by this committee chairman.
The Fiorillos are still in the waste disposal business. And, as mentioned earlier, Joseph Fiorillo Jr. has worked as a manager in Al Turi Landfill, Inc.
The protracted battle waged between the authorities and Dutchess Sanitation has been described in some detail to give a better appreciation of the actual climate in which the agencies involved made or, more often, failed to make their decisions.
For almost 20 years the Fiorillos managed two waste disposal sites, one in Poughkeepsie in Dutchess County and the other in Plattekill in Ulster County, in chronic violation of the State Environmental Conservation Law, the State Sanitary Code and local zoning ordinances. Matthew Ianniello and his partner, Benjamin Cohen, both well-known organized crime figures, were financially involved in these operations. Current situation: both landfills are closed and are on the NPL. The Attorney General has started proceedings against them under CERCLA.
Responses by Governmental Agencies
I. Dutchess Sanitation (Poughkeepsie)
II. Plattekill (Hertel)
CONSENT AGREEMENTS AND CONSENT DECREES:
"Something Stinks Here!
Upstate Dump Could Pollute City Water"
So ran the headline of a full-page article in the New York Daily News on April 26, 1974. The story dealt with the battle the citizens of the little Putnam County Town of Patterson were waging over the thousands of tons of garbage that had been dumped over the previous eight months at a landfill less than a mile from the town's main street and less than ten feet from the Great Patterson Swamp, which is a wildlife refuge and forms the headwaters of the Croton Reservoir, polluting and contaminating a primary source of drinking water for residents of Westchester and New York City.
The ll-acre site the town had leased from the Kessman family for the past seven years had previously been used only for local garbage and had been operated by a local contractor from 1963 to 1973.246 The town shut down the operation after there had been numerous violations of Part 360,* but because it needed the site the town attempted for a short while to run the operation itself.247 However, it soon farmed out the operation to the low-bidding corporation Cross County Sanitation, operating out of Somers, Westchester. The contract stipulated that only local garbage was to be unloaded at the site. It was then that Patterson's real problems began.
Within a few months the authorities became aware that the company was bringing in out-of-town refuse from as far away as New York City and Westbury, Long Island. After repeated violations and warnings, the town canceled its contract with Cross County Sanitation, and in September 1973 passed an ordinance forbidding the dumping of imported garbage.248
Cross County responded by purchasing a 130-acre tract from the Kessmans that included the tiny town dump site and, disregarding the town ordinance249 and DEC prohibitions against the disposal of industrial wastes, immediately began dumping without obtaining the required permits. This set the stage for a confrontation that was to prove an embarrassment both for the Attorney General's office and DEC. ln some respects it follows a pattern similar to that found in the Dutchess County Sanitation landfill cases in Ulster and Dutchess counties, discussed in the previous section.
Meanwhile, as soon as Cross County Sanitation had purchased the additional acreage from the Kessmans to operate an unauthorized landfill, DEC inspected the property and notified Cross County in October 1973 of its violations of environmental laws.250 Only a month later DEC was ordering Cross County to attend a conference on the subject,251 and in January 1974 note was being made of the expansion of the site and the increased amount of garbage and industrial wastes being dumped there.252
In April 1974 the Supreme Court granted a preliminary injunction to the town, closing down the site, and the following month DEC announced it had requested the Attorney General to get a permanent injunction with fines against the company.253
Joseph Puchalik, Region 3, Solid Waste Engineer at the time, in a deposition under oath in August 1974, stated, in part:
During several of those inspections, I observed leachate from the refuse disposal area, consisting of colored liquid, going into the swamp which is adjacent to the refuse disposal area. During my inspection of January 25, I observed several open drums marked "toxic," their contents having been spilled directly into the swamp.254
In October that year a permanent injunction was obtained and a negotiated agreement was reached requiring Cross County to stop using the site until and unless it received the necessary permits from DEC. A fine of $3,000 was imposed on the proprietors, Frank Golinello and Frank Giannettino, with an additional fine of $5,000 to be levied if they failed to cover the dump properly.255 (Frank Golinello is the owner of Nello Carting, which was mentioned on page 51 in connection with suspected collusive bidding on the Town of Carmel garbage hauling contract.)
In December 1974 Puchalik was reporting that he had again inspected the site:
Absolutely nothing has been done to provide final cover. To make matters worse, the new owner, one Milton Kessman, has cut down all the trees which at least partially screened the site from the local people using the road. I am told by one of the locals who was on the scene at the conclusion of the tree-cutting that Mr. Kessman's last comment before he boarded the plane for his annual respite in Palm Beach was, "I want these people to get a good look at what they have been complaining about."256
The proprietors, Golinello and Giannettino, immediately stopped their mortgage payments to the Kessmans, who then repurchased the property, while Cross County Sanitation sold their business to Suburban Carting, which had been using the site.257
Up to this point, action by the authorities had been reasonably swift. Unfortunately it was going to take three more years to get the site closed -- and then not properly -- due to to blunders in the follow-up after the initial battle had been won.
In 1975 DEC sued the Kessmans for their failure to complete the closure of the abandoned dump.258 After much legal skirmishing, an out-of-court settlement was reached in 1976 between the Kessmans and the owners of the now defunct Cross County Sanitation whereby the Kessmans agreed to supply the proper clean fill and Golinello and Giannettino agreed to supply the earth-moving equipment.259 DEC had sought to have the property owners construct a berm, which would prevent the leachate from flowing from the dump into the Great Swamp. In March 1976 Puchalik was writing the Attorney General:
It has been almost one year since the referenced matter has been argued before the Supreme Court. To date this office has received no word of the outcome, if any, of the court action instituted against Mr. Kessman.
As you know, the elder Kessman is experiencing some difficulty with Treasury officials in that he is under Federal indictment for illegal gun sales. Inasmuch as Kessman was on probation for income tax evasion at the time of his arrest, this office is more anxious to conclude the Kessman matter prior to the resolution of his difficulties with Federal officials.260
Eventually, DEC settled for what it thought would be an adequate two-foot clay cover, properly graded and seeded. At the time of the decision, then director of DEC's Region 3 office, Norman J. VanValkenburgh, said in June 1976 that the out-of-court settlement was necessary as the Attorney General's office did not feel it had all the data it needed.261
About the same time, Paul Bernstein, Region 3, Environmental Conservation Officer, had reported to his superiors:
On the north western side of the landfill site a 150 foot long by 150 foot wide pool of bright orange leachate has appeared. This leachate is traveling along a channel on the top of the landfill and has worked its way into the Muddy Brook. I was shocked when I saw this but was totally unprepared for the sight that greeted me when I checked the Northern side of the dump. The whole area for some five hundred yards up to a stream called the Mill Stream was covered by a red putrid mass. This red dye or chemical waste it appears has killed a majority of the swamp foliage and has driven out or killed all wildlife and swamp amphibians.
The landfill site itself is nothing but a mass of uncovered garbage and what appears to be industrial waste. When the site was shut down, the operators did not place any covering material on top of it except for a token half inch or so.
My main concern now is to see that this potentially dangerous mess is contained and cleaned up because if this is not done I am afraid that in less than five years the Great Swamp of Patterson will be nothing more than a dead morass of slime totally void of plant or animal life.262
The State initiated contempt proceedings against the Kessmans when the deadline for covering the dump had passed. Not until the State's case was upheld in court and the Kessmans faced imprisonment did the Kessmans initiate their own contempt proceedings against Golinello and Giannettino, who finally put down the cover in July 1977.263 The attorney for the Kessmans took the precaution of writing the deputy attorney general at that time that the work was being done and further stated, "If you have not already done so, please arrange to have your clients review the work which is being performed at the dump site to avoid any possible problems. Once the third-party defendants have completed their work it will be nearly impossible to get them to return."264
John Greenthal, the then DEC Region 3 attorney, made a preliminary tour of the dump shortly afterward and indicated that the covering put down by the former operators might not meet the required specifications265 But no definite recommendations were made.
However, a year later, in May 1978, the new DEC Region 3 Director was quoted as saying that the Great Swamp was not polluted. He also said that the cover on the dump was "better than most we've seen," and added that he had no objections to the Kessmans spreading topsoil on the site and planting hay.266
These comments were used by the Kessmans' attorney when he was approached by the Attorney General's office that same month with advice that a DEC inspection had found the work had not been satisfactorily performed a year earlier.267
The Attorney General's office was reluctant to pursue the case further,267 despite a strong memorandum from the DEC Region 3 attorney, in January 1979, which read, in part:
I agree with Bud Keehan that the Department's case is far from perfect. I acknowledge that the defendants will be able to recite some very strong mitigating factors that prevented them from completing the work and that some of these might embarrass the Department (notably) the failure by the then outgoing Regional Solid Waste Engineer to inspect the remedial work performed at the Kessman farm despite requests by the defendants' attorneys for such an inspection.
However, if the court visits the site (as I have done), it will be clear that there are many areas where refuse protrudes through the meager amount of cover material placed on those portions of the site. It does not take a professional engineer's inspection to reveal that the court order was not complied with fully.
For reasons of policy and in an effort to preserve the Great Swamp in Putnam County from possible danger, therefore, we in Region 3 have concluded that the matter should be pursued. Aware that our case is not ideal, we nevertheless believe that a failure to pursue it might cause harm, both to the environment and to the Department's image as its protector. This harm might in fact be greater than that visited upon the Department as a result of lack of success in the action itself.268
A recent field investigation by State Superfund consultants revealed the presence of numerous leachate seeps and approximately 40 to 60 half-buried 55-gallon drums, some of which were leaking, and a strong chemical odor was detected in their vicinity.269 It is not known how many more barrels may have been buried at the site. Lack of funds had prevented DEC from thoroughly testing the site to determine the extent of contamination and the impact the dumping may have had on the Great Swamp and the nearby residential wells.
DEC spent State Superfund money to complete a Phase II study of the site. Although the study found the site to have a hazard ranking score of 37.6, qualifying it for submission to the EPA's National Priority List, the department has not yet officially submitted it to EPA.270 However, a demand letter has been sent to the owners of the site, but the owners, in their response, have disclaimed all responsibility. Proceeding toward remedial action, DEC will issue a request for proposals from consultants to conduct a remedial investigation feasibility study. This will take approximately four months to complete. The actual study can take betwen 12 to 18 months to finish, at which point the department will have a set of recommendations designed to establish the blueprint for cleanup.271
In this particular case, responsibility for the pollution should not be difficult to establish. The Kessmans and Cross County Sanitation, along with such firms as Jamaica Ash and Rubbish Removal of Westbury, Long Island, owned by Emidio "Mimi" Fazzini, identified by Kaufman as a key organized crime figure in the Long Island carting industry who routinely commingled hazardous waste and municipal refuse, and Suburban Carting, owned by Thomas Milo and Alfred DeMarco, all have made use of the Kessman site.272
Although the carters who hauled the hazardous wastes to the site may have been guilty of misdemeanor offenses in the past under the Environmental Conservation Law, the statute of limitations on these violations, which is two years, has already run its course. Under present State law the department must first demonstrate that the site present a "significant threat" to the environment or public health before the responsible parties can be required to pay for remedial costs. The procedure for determining that a significant threat exists frequently requires that monitoring wells be installed and tested. This was the case with the Cross County landfill, which had to compete with hundreds of other sites for the extremely limited assessment funds that were available through the State Superfund.
This is obviously a situation that must be addressed in new legislation and will be covered in the committee's recommendations. The burden of funding tests to determine if a significant threat exists should be shouldered by the responsible parties in those cases where the past disposal of hazardous wastes has been done in direct violation of the Environmental Conservation Law.
LOUIS MONGELLI AND HIS FAMILY CONNECTIONS
Louis Mongelli was indicted on June 25, 1981, in the state of New Jersey for his role in an organized crime scheme to monopolize the garbage industry in northern and central New Jersey. I.S.A. of New Jersey, Inc., was also named as a defendant.
According to the indictment, Louis Mongelli, President of I.S.A. (the board of directors also included Joseph L., Robert A. and Jean Mongelli) participated in a conspiracy with other garbage collectors to eliminate competition within the industry. Mongelli and his fellow conspirators, who included Carmine Franco and Anthony Rizzo, were charged, among other offenses, with using threats, intimidation, physical force and other means to pressure and induce garbage collectors to join the conspiracy. The New Jersey state grand jury charged that the conspirators had restrained competition in the garbage collection industry, restricted the freedom of customers to hire the collector of their choice and "raised, fixed and maintained and stabilized" prices charged to garbage collectors at "artificially high and non-competitive levels."273
In November of 1984 Mongelli pleaded guilty to a disorderly person offense and was placed on probation for one year, fined $1,000 and required to complete 100 hours of community service. A civil judgment of $40,000 was entered against I.S.A.274 Considering his background one might wonder at the kind of community service he would render.
Informants tie Mongelli in with Mario Gigante and Thomas Milo (refer to page 30), both of whom are connected with the Genovese-Tieri crime family.
The Mongellis operate in New Jersey and Westchester, Orange, Rockland and Sullivan counties and own a number of companies that are rivaled in size only by the Milo operations. The Mongellis are the largest users of the Orange County landfill.275 In Westchester they hold the lucrative contract to operate the county's five transfer stations, where garbage is collected before being transported to the Signal Resco resource recovery facility in Peekskill.
Christine Penaluna and her daughter Cheryl showed considerable courage in testifying before this committee, despite some harrowing experiences they had been through as a result of their seeking to discover what was taking place at the Penaluna Road landfill, which was adjacent to their home in the Town of Warwick.
The Penaluna landfill is located in a remote area in the hills overlooking the recreational Greenwood Lake, which feeds the Wanaque Reservoir. The reservoir provides ten cities and the suburbs of northern New Jersey with drinking water. Two New York communities draw their water directly from Greenwood Lake, which is cut at almost half its length by the New York-New Jersey border276
The Penaluna landfill had been in operation for 20 years by the Town of Warwick. When the town lost its lease, the landfill was leased instead to Grace Carting, a subsidiary of Round Lake Sanitation located in Harriman, New York. It was at that time that people began to notice around the landfill a suspicious pattern of truck movements between New Jersey and New York. A homeowner who had a bird's-eye view of the area complained that the stench from the dump was so disgusting his family had to leave the house sometimes until it blew away.277
The Penaluna mother and daughter kept a journal of their observations, which they provided to the committee. It contains numerous graphic accounts of abuses that occurred at the landfill. For example, one of the women writes:
Spring of '79
Round Lake Sanit., green compactor, just unloaded Union Carbide, Reichhold Chem. and a medical center from Sterling Forest. The load, household rubbish, mixed with thick black liquid, and plastic bottles cut in half, clear liquid covering the ground under them. Black liquid burns skin on contact, has strong smell of toluol [sic]. Also, a bag, containing rubber gloves, masks, ect. [sic] and a piece of paper stating materials in bag are radioactive-contaminated. About a half hour later, a load from Ford Plant in Mahway, N.J. arrives in a yellow cab, blue box roll off -- (I.S.A.*). Batteries with acid still in them, and quite a few tubes of "Comcode -- No. 400-494-811 B-Sealant At.-8502" were unloaded. The driver, James Buchanan.278
The Penalunas were not dedicated environmentalists looking for the next good
cause to fight, but simple, family people, living next to a landfill and concerned about the
threat it might pose to their own health. Mother and daugher made it their business to find
PENALUNA LANDFILL AS SEEN BY THE CARETAKER
"All kinds of chemicals -- old tires, old rubbers -- still bringing it in -- every other day bringing a load in from the rubber company -- some garbage and some paint, lacquer, brake fluid -- all that shit from the Ford plant; that's what's running down in there; that's what's going in the water table -- bring them -- batteries, batteries, dump 'em in the dump, cover 'em up and then it rains and it heads down in the dirt and it runs into the bottom and into the lake."
* * * * *
Chairman Hinchey: Who is Bill Decker?
* * * * *
Chairman Hinchey: Bob Mongelli said that to Bill Decker?
* * * * *
Chairman Hinchey: Do you know what happend to Mr. Decker?
out what was happening and kept careful note of the activities taking place there, especially those late at night or early in the morning when the landfill was not officially open.
The trouble had begun when the Town of Warwick discontinued its operation of the landfill on Penaluna Road in June 1977 and leased it to Grace Disposal and Leasing, Ltd., of Harriman, New York, owned by the Mongellis.281 The Mongellis received a sanitary- landfill permit from the Orange County Department of Health the following month, but they did not bother to apply for the requisite DEC permit until February 1978.282 After finally receiving their permit application, the department determined that the operation posed a potential threat to private wells and to Greenwood Lake, a source of drinking water for nearly one million people in New York and northern New Jersey. In view of the potential impact, DEC required that the company conduct soil borings, install monitoring wells and construct a leachate-collection system.283
In June 1979 the Mongellis refused to comply with the department's directive and filed a lawsuit against both DEC and the townspeople who opposed the permit approval.284 While the litigation was pending the Mongellis continued to operate the landfill for two years.
That the Mongellis were willfully flaunting the law is apparent from what happened during the two-year period when they must have realized their operations were under close scrutiny. During the litigation, residents had complained that Grace Disposal ignored buffer-zone requirements and that trucks bearing New Jersey license plates dumped at the landfill very early in the morning and late at night, using flares to light their way285 One of those signing his name to a court deposition was James Penaluna, whose wife and daughter were later to testify at this committee's hearings. He claimed he had observed Mongellis' I.S.A. trailers unload 50-gallon drums of sludge at the site, which "appeared to be a combination of grease, oil and degreasers." He further claimed that the barrels were flattened and covered by an employee of Mongellis' Grace Disposal. He also reported observing other industrial wastes being dumped and that the truck drivers told him that the waste material came from the Ford Motor Plant in Mahwah, New Jersey.286
An appreciation of the reasons for the Penaluna's concern can be obtained from their answer to Assemblyman Hinchey's question as to whether they ever had their drinking water tested for contamination:
Christina: Yes, we had it tested three or four or maybe even five times from different people. The first time ...was when the DEC and, I think, the County Board of Health came to test it, and we did not get any results from them, either one. ...Finally, Ms. Murtie had Wehren Engineering ... test it. ...Finally she did call me and told me not to, under any circumstances, drink it or even put our hands in it.
Chairman Hinchey: Where do you get your water from?
Christina: From Chester. There is -- on Route 17, is it? -- there is a faucet on Route 17, a public faucet, but that is where we get it from, or friends, you know, wherever.
Chairman Hinchey: You are hauling your water for six years?
Mother and daugher made it a practice to talk to the drivers of the trucks that entered the landfill, as well as the landfill employees. They noted that deliveries began as early as 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning and sometimes continued until nearly midnight, although the landfill officially closed at 5:00 p.m.
One night they stole forward in the dark to watch tractor-trailers dumping in a wetlands area beyond the actual landfill. As soon as the loads were dumped, the bulldozer operator would cover it immediately. On other occasions they saw big holes dug in the ground where drums would be dumped early in the morning and then be quickly covered over.
Chairman Hinchey: Were any of these drums ever broken to your knowledge at this time?
Cheryl: Not in this specific load, it was covered over with a bulldozer, but when the other drums came in, it would run over them with the bulldozer and cover them up.
Chairman Hinchey: What would happen when they ran over them?
Cheryl: Smashed. In fact, he got burned with acid, the bulldozer operator and they had to take him to the hospital, he got burned on the chest.288
Mother and daughter took careful notes of what they saw, recorded license-plate numbers, company names appearing on the trucks and even collected some samples of the types of wastes that were being dumped. Among those wastes were:
The Penalunas testified at the committee hearings that Bob Mongelli had leveled thinly veiled threats at them for their prying into what was going on at the landfill and that he had prevailed on a friend in the local police to harrass them, following them in his vehicle and acting as if to force them off the road. According to one of the men who worked at the site, who was friendly with the Penalunas, this was done only to scare them rather than to do them actual physical harm. However, the Penalunas had some difficulty in accepting this, especially when James Penaluna's truck and one of their cars both had their brake lines severed. They also related that all the wheel lugs had been loosened on one of the cars.290
Such occurrences made them more cautious but did not cause them to curb their anxiety about what was happening at the landfill. They described one incident in which large tractor-trailers dumped their loads into wetlands located beyond the site's boundaries and behind their property. The wastes gave off an orange-yellow glow that became extinguished only a few minutes after it was dumped. Said the Penaluna women, "Through the garbage, we saw glowing and we hear popping all through it, all through the loads."291
This was elucidated on by another witness testifying at the committee hearings, John Burns, a resident of New Windsor, New York, who worked for the Union Carbide Corporation in the late 1960s and who later went to work for the North Jersey Water Supply District, where he was the Assistant Supervisor of Purification in their laboratory and in control of their watershed. He was able to clarify what the Penaluna women had said by drawing on his own experience and is worth quoting in some detail.
I was employed by Union Carbide in the late Sixties, and what the woman was saying about the method of disposal of the gloves and various other related aprons, these are things you would wear in radioactive facilities, in a nuclear facility, they were disposed of in drums and carted away.
We were always led to believe that while we were working at Union Carbide they were to be dumped at sea. However, in thinking back, it seems to me that what the disposal company that used to pick up the garbage was Round Lake Sanitation [another Mongelli operation] and it just seemed -- anyway, the other thing I wanted to bring to your attention was the fact that Union Carbide Medical Center, just down the block, first you have Reichhold Chemical, which is just north of Union Carbide, then you have the Union Carbide Research Center, and just south of that you have International Paper, and continuing on down the road you have New York University Medical labs.
We used to sell radioactive biochemicals to the NYU Medical Center, so just putting it in that perspective, it appears that it is possibly linked up together.
They also mentioned the popping and the yellow lights, they could very well be phosphorous that would have dumped in an underwater -- you would want to dump phosphorous under water so that a swampland would be an ideal situation, because when it is exposed to air it will explode, and you will see flashes of light, especially yellow and orange.
So putting all that together, P-32 phosphorous compounds were made at Union Carbide, and they were also handled, I would imagine, in a number of other facilties that would be in the Sterling Forest area.
...After leaving Union Carbide, I went to the North Jersey Water Supply District. ...It is the largest operating reservoir in the State of New Jersy, serving some seven hundred fifty thousand people, whose water -- it goes to Patterson, and goes down as far as -- well it goes to Newark, Montclair, Cedar Grove, Bayonne, Jersey City, Kearney, and others, so that you are talking about the entire northern part of New Jersey. Now, the Hackensack Water Comany has also hooked into the Wanaque Reservoir and they supply water to another million people in the northern section of New Jersey, and also into Rockland County.292
While the litigation was pending the Mongellis continued to operate the landfill for two years. The Attorney General, in the meantime, had asked the court to close the illegal operation and require the Mongellis to pay for capping the site at a cost estimated by DEC of about $950,000. It was not until 1980 that they were actually ordered to close the landfill.
In what the DEC Region 3 Director Paul Keller characterized as "an extreme example of the failure of the courts to do their job," the Mongellis were required to post only a $10,000 bond to place final cover on the site. Paying the bond, the Mongellis immediately dissolved Grace Disposal and Leasing, Ltd. Keller has estimated cleanup costs at Penaluna will be in the neighborhood of $1.5 million.293
The Penaluna site, which is 36 acres in size and 50 feet deep, is now leaching toxic organic chemicals and heavy metals, such as cadmium, lead and mercury, into a stream and wetland that feed Greenwood Lake. DEC has estimated that the dump may produce as much as five gallons of leachate per minute, or approximately 7,200 gallons per day294
DEC came to realize that monitoring wells placed at the site by Woodward and Clyde a DEC Superfund consulting firm, were put in the locations not known to be the areas where hazardous wastes were deposited. Woodward and Clyde had used an old map that did not include the expanded areas of the dump. Although recommended at the time of this discovery, additional wells have not been drilled. In the meantime, however the consultants have completed a Phase II study under the State's Superfund procedure, which has shown the site to have a rating high enough to qualify for the federal National Priority List.295 As a result, the State will proceed through the Attorney General's office to act under the federal CERCLA provisions. The Attorney General is currently awaiting the results of a new round of sampling before proceeding.296
1. The Penaluna landfill site received hazardous wastes at least between 1977, when Mongelli took over its operations, until 1980.
2. The leachate from the landfill was a threat not only to the water supply of those using Greenwood Lake for drinking water, but also to all those New Jersey communities served by the Wanaque Reservoir, which was fed by Greenwood Lake.
3. Although DEC requested the operator to conduct soil borings, install monitoring wells and construct a leachate-collection system, he refused and filed a lawsuit against DEC, during which interval he continued to allow hazardous wastes to be deposited in the landfill.
4. Monitoring wells drilled at the direction of a consultant firm were put in the wrong place. DEC did not carry through on having this mistake rectified.
5. On losing the lawsuit, the Mongellis had to post a bond for $10,000 for placing final cover on the site. Having paid this, they dissolved Grace Disposal and Leasing, Ltd., leaving the public with an estimated cleanup cost of $1.5 million. The Corporate Liability Bill has been introduced to prevent companies from taking this type of action with impunity.
6. A Phase II study by the same firm that located the wells in the wrong place has found the site has a rating serious enough to qualify it for the NPL. The matter has been
referred to the Attorney General for action under CERCLA. The Attorney General is awaiting sample results before proceeding.
DEC did not have sufficient evidence to take action against Mongelli because it had to prove "significant threat" under Article 27, Title 13 of the Environmental Conservation Law. Although it could prove hazardous wastes were leaching from the site into nearby streams and into Greenwood Lake, these leachates were not in significantly high concentrations. Moreover, tests of the well of the Penaluna family living adjacent to the landfill showed no contamination by volatile organics and toxic metals according to DEC, although it very well may have been contaminated by conventional pollutants. Under CERCLA, remediation can be asked for by demonstrating that a hazardous waste constituent is migrating from the site.
The dilemma could possibly be resolved in situations such as this by:
a. clearly defining what concentrations of hazardous constituents found in leachate either make the leachate a hazardous waste or indicate that hazardous waste was disposed of in a landfill;
b. empowering DEC to require the site owner to pay for a Phase II study if hazardous wastes are discovered at the site.
The Mongellis -- in addition to their operation at the Penaluna landfill in Warwick -- owned and operated All County Environmental Service Corporation for nearly a decade in partnership with John and Frank Coppola.297 The company, which transported septic and hazardous wastes, had its headquarters in Warwick until 1979, at which time it moved its base of operations to Glenwood, New Jersey, although it continued to maintain offices both in Warwick and other locations in New York.298 It had also acquired two storage facilities; one at River Road in Edgewater, New Jersey, the other in Newark. The State of New Jersey was not notified of the existence of the Edgewater facility, which was discovered in a routine inspection.299
During their ten years of operation, All County had compiled a long list of hazardous waste violations. A New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) draft consent order charged the owners of All County with the following:
In addition, in March 1983 a Solite facility in Virginia purchased 3,339 gallons of flammable solvents from All County and burned it three days later. Subsequent testing of a sample of the waste indicated that it was heavily contaminated with PCBs, a violation both for All County and Solite.301
With the agencies in two states pressing the company because of violations, John and Frank Coppola, who owned two-thirds of the stock, sold their share to the Mongellis. The Coppolas retained all the assets, accounts and equipment related to that portion of the business that handled septic wastes, forming a new corporation -- All County Resource Management.302 This left the Mongellis sole owners of the hazardous waste business; but actually, three days before, they had sold the business to James Stroin,303 a former employee of BFI and SCA who had also worked at the notorious Kin-Buc Landfill, which had been shut down in 1977 when toxic chemicals from the site were found to be leaking into the Raritan River. Shortly thereafter he was joined by David Rosenberg, another former SCA employee, who became the vice president and operations manager for All County.304
Two and one-half months later Stroin was compelled by DEP to apply for a New Jersey hazardous waste hauler's permit305 and he indicated that New Jersey wastes would be hauled to Northeast Solite in Saugerties, New York, and the Norlite Corporation, another industrial kiln in Cohoes, New York.306 Stroin, like the previous owners, continued to use the Geo-Chem Company of Lowell, Massachusetts, as a supplier of flammable solvent wastes.307
In December that same year, only eight months after Stroin had purchased All County, the New Jersey DEP issued a cease and desist order to the company for its failure to apply for a permit within 90 days prior to the change in ownership and the illegal transportation of several shipments of PCB-contaminated wastes from Geo-Chem Company to the Edgewater facility. Certain of the loads were found to contain as much as 3,830 ppm of PCBs. Contaminated loads had been burned at Norlite and Solite in Virginia, where they had been sent308 According to the federal EPA, Solite illegally incinerated more than 100,000 gallons of the PCB waste.309 All County Environmental Services was closed down by DEP and Stroin and Rosenberg were out of business.
In the meantime, the Coppolas were pursuing their end of the business. In 1984 John Coppola applied for a permit renewal for All County Resoruce Management.310 A committee staff member discovered that the application had indicated All County would collect cesspool sludge, septage and sewage-treatment sludge in New York State. The
wastes would be treated and landspread at PO Box G, Glenwood, New Jersey. When the committee staff member questioned the existence of such a disposal facility, the department pulled the renewal permit from the mail and called the company. The Coppolas claimed it was an oversight. They did not have a landspreading operation. The company would transport the wastes to the same receiving stations they had previously used.311 But on May 1, 1984, Frank and John Coppola submitted a permit application to DEC for yet another company, Eco-Tec Services, Inc., located at PO Box G, Glenwood, New Jersey, to operate a large landspreading facility in the Town of Goshen, New York. The company was to collect 3,600 tons of municipal sludge each year from Orange, Sullivan and Westchester counties and apply it to 570 acres of farmland.312 Local opposition defeated the plan.
All County's permit allowed it to dispose of its septic wastes and sludge until April 30, 1986, at the F.T. Darrigo Farm in an area adjacent to that part that is on the State's Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site Registry, located in the Town of Newburgh in Orange County. All County was the only company permitted to use this site. Under State regulations septage disposal sites that are used by a single hauler with a combined vehicle capacity of no more than 3,000 gallons do not require a Part 360 permit. Instead, the hauler using the site is required to check the disposal area to be certain it is in compliance with minimal operating criteria established by DEC. Such was the case with the Darrigo Farm, which was regulated only through the permit conditions that were imposed on All County.313
All County was also one of the waste haulers under investigation by John Fine of the State's Organized Crime Task Force in 1979.314
OCTF records indicate that on numerous occasions All County trucks had been observed dumping liquid wastes late at night at the Merion Blue Grass Sod Farm, a landspreading operation in the Town of Waywayanda, Orange County. Although All County was not permitted to use the site, there is no record of any enforcement action having been taken against the company.315
All County, under the ownership of the Mongellis and Coppolas, was also in business with a third Coppola, Ralph, owner of Ra-Mar Waste Management Corporation, a septic and oil-tank cleaning company based in New York and New Jersey. Ra-Mar services Orange, Rockland and Westchester counties and, like All County, has a history of violating environmental laws.
Between September 1979 and June 1981 Ra-Mar committed 20 separate violations of New Jersey's hazardous waste laws. The company had used unregistered vehicles to collect and store hazardous wastes, illegally accepted and transported shipments of hazardous wastes and took them to unauthorized facilities. One of these facilities was Edgewater Terminals, located at River Road, Edgewater, next door to All County. Owned by Russell Mahler, whose criminal record will be discussed in the next section, Edgewater Terminals was a waste oil storage facility.316 Ralph Coppola also hauled waste oil to All County's River Road facility and helped to service some of his relatives' accounts in New York State.317
Late in the spring of 1985 Ra-Mar was granted a permit to haul waste oil, septage and sludge to disposal sites in the Hudson Valley and New Jersey.318 Round Lake Sanitation and Tri-State Carting are currently permitted to transport industrial wastes to the Orange County landfill.319
In the case of Ra-Mar Management, the company's past record of violating the law could serve as grounds for permit denial. But because State law recognizes each corporation as a separate entity -- in spite of the owners' relationship -- Round Lake Sanitation, Tri-State Carting and All County Resources Management may be shielded from the consequences of the past illegal actions of the Mongellis and Coppolas.
Newly proposed legislation would require individuals to demonstrate that they are suitable applicants and of good character. It would focus on the backgrounds of persons who operate the business and not on the corporate entity.
Unlike most of the other individuals this report has discussed in connection with the illegal dumping of hazardous wastes -- and without meaning to diminish the serious consequences of their activities -- Russell Mahler has the dubious distinction of having been indicted and convicted in three states for crimes that have endangered the health and safety of millions of people.320 He also differs from most of the others in not showing up on police records as having links with organized crime. On the contrary, he has insisted on presenting himself as an ordinary businessman, one of those entrepreneurs who earn their living, literally, off the wastes of our industrial society.321 He began his career as a scavenger, operating within the law; he is ending it convicted in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York for a long list of criminal activities.
In 1981 he entered a guilty plea in Pennsylvania, served a year in prison and paid in full to the state fines totalling three-quarters of a million dollars.322 In May of 1984 he was given a five-year suspended sentence in New Jersey on another guilty plea for separate crimes committeed in that state.323 In June 1984 his attorney, in arguing his latest case before the federal judge in New York State, claimed a $l.l million fine would be excessive -- "You can't get blood out of a stone," was how he put it.324 Nevertheless, when sentence was finally set in October 1984, he agreed to make restitution to New York City in the amount of $518,743 and to pay an additional fine of $10,000. The sentence included six month in prison, followed by five years of probation during which he would be required to cooperate with federal and state authorities in the detection and prosecution of illegal waste disposal activities. In addition, he would have to spend during the probation period 76 weekends in a community treatment center designated by his probation officer.325
When he was convicted in Pennsylvania in 1981 he had offered his services to New York, New Jerseay and Pennsylvania to help the authorities uncover deeper layers of criminal activity in the area of hazardous waste disposal. Such service was imposed as a condition of his negotiated guilty pleas in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. That the courts had not been completely satisfied with the bargain that had been struck is evident from the sentence that was handed down by the federal court in New York in October 1984.
In a federal district court in New Jersey in May 1984 he told the judge, "Your honor, I was associated with the oil-refining industry for 25 years, in the fifties, in the sixties and seventies. I owned four refineries in the northeastern part of the United States and worked at it diligently all my lifetime. I was also associated with the petroleum industry which tied in with that for 32 years."326
He had lucrative contracts with the government through which he obtained waste oils from the Air Force and Navy from Maine to Virginia.327
Mahler, in testimony before a state legislative committee, described what happened to the industry:
Industries dispose of their wastes, both oil and chemical wastes, to waste collectors. The waste oil collector historically would take waste lubricating oils to waste oil re-refineries. However, the industry took a step backward in the early seventies when the shortage of oil in the world raised the price for fuel oil. This made the waste oil industry and
THE WASTE OIL COCKTAIL
Most petroleum products have a one-time use, such as in the gasoline that power our cars or in fuel or diesel oil. But there are other types of oil that can be cleansed of impurities and used over and over again. These are crankcase oils, turbine oils from aviation, and hydraulic oils. When they become contaminated from water, cleaners, organic solvents and metallic solvents from oxidation and wear on the engines they are lubricating, they can then be re-refined and used again. In the 1960s there were some 150 refineries in this country producing about 300 million gallons of such lubricating oil annually. By 1980 there were only l0 companies left, producing only 100 million gallons.
In the early seventies, when the oil shortage developed, the price of fuel oil shot sharply upward. The waste oil collectors found they could get more for their waste oil by moving it into fuel oil than by selling it to a refinery. It was also discovered that by mixing this waste oil with untreated liquid hazardous wastes further profits could be realized. It has been well documented that waste oils, containing highly toxic materials, have been illegally mixed with fuel oil, or simply sold as fuel oil, and burned in apartment houses, schools and hospitals in the New York metropolitan area.328 An investigation of a Staten Island residential area led to the discovery of fuel oil contaminated with PCBs at three thousand parts per million; of a waste oil dealer selling oil that was twelve percent trichloroethane; of a federal study finding benzene, chloroform, trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene and acrylonitrile in the air the residents were breathing.
the collectors move their waste oils into fuel oil instead of re-refineries because of the high price they could get for fuel oil.
This practice brought about the extermination of a legitimate waste oil re-refinery because the re-refinery could not get good, clean waste lube oils.329
Mahler went on to testify that with the strengthening of environmental regulations prohibiting the disposal of hazardous wastes in dumps and landfills, the waste fuel oil industry took another step backward in the 1970s and began accepting toxic chemical wastes and mixing these with waste fuel oil.330
In October 1984, just before sentencing, Russell Mahler explained his own behavior in this statement to the court:
Your Honor, I stand here in great remorse. I want to apologize to the City of New York, to the state, to the federal government, for all the time and effort and money they have had to spend in this case.
Two years ago I pled to the charge. I admit that what I did was wrong. I haven't been involved in the industry for four years. I have no intention of going back into it.
I also want to apologize to the community, if there's any problems. At the same time, I apologize to my wife and my children for the grief I have put them through.
I spent a year in prison [in Pennsylvania] which devastated my family and myself and when I came out of prison, I dedicated myself to cooperating with the authorities.331
The record of his activities over the past several years certainly indicates that he has much to apologize for: that he acted the part of a callous and ruthless merchant of death, a white-collar criminal, dropping his loads of toxic and cancer-inducing chemicals in city water supplies, the Chesapeake Bay's national fishing grounds and crowded recreational areas; moving from state to state as his activities became known, constantly changing the names of his companies, and flaunting the law while he continued his operating; using bribery and whatever other means necessary to attain his end.
The unravelling of Mahler's complicated network of operations began in 1976, when one of his companies, Northeast Oil Service, was found guilty of discharging hazardous wastes into the Syracuse sewer system, which empties into Lake Onondaga. Analysis of Northeast's waste stream disclosed the presence of chemical substances, as well a large amount of oil and grease.332
Mahler resorted to the usual method employed by those in the hazardous waste industry who want to block governmental agencies from prying too closely into their illegal operations. Another one of his companies, Anchor Oil, promptly bought out Northeast. It was only a matter of time, however, before Anchor was also caught discharging oil into the Syracuse sanitary sewer. When Onondaga County assessed the company a modest $2,758 to cover cleanup costs, it became time for Anchor to bow out of the picture. There was another name change and Hudson Oil Corporation -- still another Mahler enterprise -- bought out Anchor. Operating from the same site, Hudson Oil in 1979 was caught discharging oil wastes into the same sewers and had to pay $4,500 in damages.333
Mahler was persistent in his dumping practices. When the Syracuse Department of Drainage and Sanitation continued to detect large amounts of suspicious waste water, they installed an automatic monitor in a manhole close to Mahler's plant. This was not successful as the monitoring device was tampered with and the evidence removed. The sanitation department then took the extraordinary precaution of bolting down the manhold covers. This stopped the discharge temporarily, but once the monitoring was discontinued at the end of three weeks, there was a discharge, over a single weekend, of 40,000 gallons of various Liquid wastes, including cyanide.334
At this point DEC was called in and its investigation disclosed that the Syracuse facility was being used as a transfer station for the storing of hazardous wastes that had been brought there from other states and Canada.335 It was subsequently also established that Hudson Oil had transported eight shipments of highly toxic nickel and copper-plating wastes, chlorinated solvents with phenol derivatives and cyanide from Pratt and Whitney in Montreal, Canada. These, along with benzene, toluene and xylene -- all suspected or known carcinogens -- were among the chemicals that Mahler dumped into the Syracuse sewer system to save himself the cost of transporting the wastes to his Edgewater, New Jersey, facility for proper disposal.336
Hudson Oil Corporation was involved in criminal activity not only in the Syracuse area. In 1978, 300 gallons of noxious, black waste oil were discovered in the waters of Newtown Creek in Long Island City in Queens, New York. The source was eventually traced back to an overflowing catch-basin on the property of Newtown Oil Refining Corporation, another of Mahler's companies. Although he initially denied responsibility for the spill, tests proved otherwise and the company paid a fine of $1,000. The federal government, however, had to spend $5,000 to clean up the spill.337
This had little deterrent effect on Mahler's operations. In the same year that his Newtown company was found guilty of the oil spill, he was also negotiating with DEC for a permit to clean up PCB-laden waste oil of unknown origin from the College Point Lagoon in Queens. Newtown was eventually dropped from consideration for this job -- which was a good thing, as it was later found out that Newtown had been the outfit that had dumped the chemicals there in the first place.338
A few months later Newtown Oil Refining found a new owner, Mahler's Hudson Oil Corporation of Edgewater, New Jersey, which promptly applied to DEC for a waste oil collector permit.339
Because of the repeated violations that had occurred both in Syracuse and Long Island, DEC rejected Mahler's applications to operate as a waste oil collector in New York State. Instead, he was advised to cease altogether his operations at both the Long Island and Syracuse sites.
Mahler simply ignored the advice and continued Hudson Oil's activities without a permit.
DEC then alerted its regional offices that the protean Mr. Mahler was a flagrant violator of Environmental Conservation Law, but apparently it felt helpless to take the kind of action that would halt all his operations in New York State. Eventually, however, Mahler was confronted with an insurmountable challenge when Syracuse finally installed tamper-proof monitors to cut off the illegal dumping in its sewers. He had to find a new dumping ground.340
He turned his attention to Pennsylvania, where his operations soon produced the usual results. In 1979 a huge spill of oil and hazardous wastes was discovered flowing into the Susquehanna River, a major recreational area as well as the source of drinking water for the City of Danville. The hazardous flow came within 35 miles of the Chesapeake Bay, and that close to destroying a major United States fishing ground, already in jeopardy from environmental pollution.341
Investigation by Pennsylvania authorities disclosed that trucks from Mahler's Edgewater facility were dumping thousands of gallons of hazardous wastes, including cyanide, into a bore hole in an abandoned mine shaft in Pittston, Pennsylvania, known as the Butler Tunnel.
The Susquehanna had to be closed off to recreation because of the presence of toxins that were capable of being absorbed through the skin, and dichlorobenzene was found at the intake portals of the river leading to Danville's water supply.342
It should be noted that it was reported as recently as December 1985 in the New York Times that heavy rains and flooding in November in Pennsylvania were still leaching additional contamination into the Susquehanna from the Butler Tunnel.
Mahler and Kenneth Mansfield, his dispatcher for the Edgewater facility, were indicted and sentenced in Pennsylvania to serve a year and a day.343 Mahler was fined $750,000 for his actions.344
The Pennsylvania case alerted New York to the possibility that it might become the next dumping ground for Mahler's movement of hazardous materials coming from other states and Canada. New York's DEC sounded an alarm but still was not able to fashion an effective legal barrier to restrict Mahler's activities. It did negotiate a consent order at the close of 1979 that -- as it should have known -- would do little to deter a man of Mahler's resourcefulness.345
The order required that as a result of violations on at least 16 different occasions, Hudson Oil would have to pay a fine of $50,000 and post a bond for $250,000. In return, Hudson Oil was granted temporary permission to continue its waste oil operations in both Long Island and Syracuse without a permit and without penalty until such time as its applications for hazardous waste collecting permits were processed or until conditions were discovered that warranted immediate shutdown of operations. Not only was DEC strangling itself in the very net designed to ensnare Mahler, but, to further complicate matters, it had set down elaborate monitoring and self-reporting procedures for Mahler to follow that could only have been successful if Mahler had been an honest man.346
In the meantime, Mahler was burrowing himself deeper in his corporate labyrinth. By 1980 he was the sole owner of the Portland Holding Company, which, in turn, owned the Hudson Oil Refining Corporation, which was the operator but not owner of the Long Island and Syracuse facilities. Portland Holding also owned Northeast Oil Service and Polar Industries, which purchased oil but held no tangible assets, and Casco Equipment Coporation, which owned a fleet of trucks and which, with Winslow Leasing, leased trucks to Oil Transfer Corporation, which transported wastes to Syracuse and Long island City. Mahler was also a princial in Ag-MET Oil Service and several other companies.347
Now Mahler's hydra-headed monster was about to take on a new identity: Hudson Oil was transformed into Quanta Resources Corporation and was ready to do what Mahler did best -- continue his dumping activities.
DEC plodded on, however, and by 1980 had amassed proof of sufficient technical violations of the consent order to give grounds for denying Quanta a permit. It went a step further and advised that the company should, be shut down. This was not possible because Quanta was a Delaware-based corporation. Moreover, Mahler had taken the precaution of serving in this new holding company only as a chief salesman -- albeit at a very high salary -- but not as a corporate officer. Ironically, the consent order had exempted Quanta from any penalties due to violations that had occurred before the Quanta takeover.348
Whatever the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's intentions may have been at the time, its tactics in dealing with Quanta have to be judged in retrospect as deplorably counterproductive. Despite over 80 recorded violations, DEC took no action except to deny Quanta the formal permits it needed to operate. DEC put itself in the embarrassing position of not providing Quanta with permits but still allowing it to stay in business. It even granted Quanta "special permission" to transfer 150,000 gallons of PCB-contaminated waste fuel oil from a toxic dump that had been discovered at the Chelsea Terminal on Staten Island in 1981. Also present at the Chelsea site was bromoform, a dangerous matabolic poison capable of causing liver damage or even death in humans. There is strong evidence to suggest that this same waste oil, after being transported to Mahler's Edgewater Terminal, was then reloaded on trucks and delivered to apartment houses in New York City to be burned as fuel oil.
This aspect of the case was uncovered by a team of ABC-TV reporters who put together a documentary that was presented on their 20/20 nationally viewed TV program. ABC had filmed movement of trucks loaded with fuel oil from Edgewater to apartment houses in New York City. When samples of the fuel oil were tested, they were found to contain PCBs and bromoform.349
When New Jersey's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) then moved in to shut Quanta down, the company filed for bankruptcy. In 1984 a federal appeals court ruled that New York State can require a hazardous waste disposal company to pay for the cleanup of a dangerous dumpsite after the company has filed for bankruptcy. The United States Supreme Court upheld the appeals court ruling in a decision reached in January 1986.
In the New Jersey case Mahler pleaded guilty to representing falsely to manufacturers and generators of hazardous wastes that he would transport such wastes to authorized Special Waste Facilities when he actually took them to unauthorized dumpsites without treatment or simply transferred them to his Edgewater Terminal and released them into the Hudson River. He would then file with the New Jersey DEP falsely certified manifests claiming that he had disposed of them properly.
The most recent case brought against Mahler -- the one resulting in the sentence handed down in the federal district court in Manhattan in October 1984 -- deals with his systematic bribery of employees of the New York City Sanitation Department. (See page 104 in the section dealing with Gaess.) Through a bribery conspiracy, employees of Mahler's companies were allowed, over a period of at least eight years, to drive tanker-trailers into the City's municipal landfills and dump hazardous chemical wastes and contaminated oils. On some occasions they poured the contents into holes that had been obligingly dug by the City employees, who then refilled the holes with landfill material. On other occasions they sprayed the contents over a wide area by opening spigots on the underside of their tankers and driving the trucks over the roads within the landfill. At one of these landfills a pool of contaminated oil leached toxic chemicals containing a high level of PCBs into Jamaica Bay. At another landfill in Pelham, New York, Mahler's trucks
brought wastes in from various Connecticut companies, using the same illicit methods. It is estimated that he paid bribes of about a half million dollars to Sanitation Department personnel, thus resulting in tens of millions of dollars of environmental damage.350
The ineffectiveness of our legal system in dealing with the maneuvering of a determined, resourceful and wealthy criminal is abundantly displayed in the Russell Mahler situation.
Consider the following:
When Mahler was being tried in New Jersey by the federal authorities, a federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, John Kaley, and a New York State Senate Counsel, Jeremiah B. McKenna, requested that the judge not imprison Mahler because his assistance in investigations was critical to New York authorities. As a result, he and Mansfield received suspended sentences.
Wrote McKenna to Judge Stern, the presiding judge on the case:
On Friday, September 23, 1983, Mr. Mahler met in the office of the New York Department of Investigation with inspector generals [sic] of various municipal agencies to disclose to them the evidence he collected establishing a widespread conspiracy to sell toxic contaminated fuel oil throughout the metropolitan area. The Department of Investigation now has an active investigation underway to interdict the traffic in toxic fuel oil.351
A few lines further on, Counsel Mckenna adds:
In the next few weeks we intend to work intensively with Russell Mahler to write a regulatory code for the waste oil industry.
This promise was never fulfilled. No such code has ever been written.
The Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, John Kaley, who has since left that office, also had kind words for Mr. Mahler:
I can report that recently (over the period late February through mid-March this year), as a result of information supplied by Mr. Mahler and with the benefit of his expertise in the field, the investigators and technicians from the state and the City of New York were able to identify through surveillance and subsequent sampling and laboratory analysis, a fuel oil company in New York City which was distributing fuel oil contaminated with tetrachlorethylene and methylene chloride, substances which can have toxic effects on humans352
In reading the above comments, addressed to Judge Stern in November 1983, the ABC-TV 20/20 documentary should be remembered, which had already indicated that it was trucks from Mahler's Edgewater Terminal that had delivered contaminated oil to New York City apartment houses. Moreover, the New York State Senate committee, of which Mr. McKenna was counsel, had issued a report in 1982 that disclosed that Mahler's Quanta company had been delivering waste oil to buildings in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the Bronx in 1981.
Not every comment had been commendatory, however. Samuel Moulthrop, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of New Jersey, advised the judge trying the case that the "information provided [by Mahler] had been of minimal value.">sup>353 A top DEC inspector concurs.
Mr. Mahler must be credited with a high degree of persuasiveness for at one point Mr. McKenna described Mahler's assistance to law enforcement agencies as being of "critical" importance, and then went on to conclude that it is "our fault, not his" that "new laws and motivation must first be marshalled before his revelations can be acted on effectively."354
The utterance of such outrageous nonsense is exceeded only by the casual acceptance of it by those who must listen to it before pronouncing sentence.
The many transformations of Russell Mahler's companies were hardly a unique phenomenon in the waste hauling industry. The operations of the Gaess brothers were fully as complicated, as anyone can see who struggles to read the following passage from an indictment filed in the United States District court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in March 1984 (United States v. Anthony D. Gaess, et al., Criminal No. 84-80):
Modern Earthline Companies
5. At times material to this Indictment, Modern Earthline Companies (hereafter "MEC") was a business engaged in the removal, transportation and disposal of sludge.
6. MEC was formed on or about August 14, 1975 as a joint venture between two separate business entities: (1) Modern Transportation, Inc., a New Jersey Corporation; and (2) Environmental Services Company, a Massachusetts company. At that time, Environmental Services Company consisted of a partnership between SCA Services of Passaic, Inc., a subsidiary of SCA Services, Inc., and Wastequid, Inc., a subsidiary of Scientific, Inc. The name "Environmental Services Company" was changed on or about September 1975 to "Gaess Environmental Services Company." The name "Gaess Environmental Services Company" was changed in or about November 1979 to "Earthline Company." The name "Earthline Company" was changed on or about September 1981 to "SCA Chemical Services Co., Earthline Division." ...On or about May 30, 1980, Modern Transportation, Inc., assigned its interest in MEC to its wholly owned subsidiary Modern Resources, Inc. On or about September 18, 1981, MEC was dissolved by a written agreement which provided, in part, for Modern Resources, Inc., to purchase SCA's interest in the joint venture. Since that day, Modern Resources, Inc., has carried on under the name of MEC the same business previously carried on by MEC.256
The Gaess brothers also possessed some of Russell Mahler's extraordinary ability to avoid the consequences of their illegal activities.
What kind of operations were the Gaess brothers involved in?
From 1972 to 1982 Anthony and Jeffrey Gaess transported millions of gallons of hazardous wastes back and forth across the New York-New Jersey border, leaving a trail of hazardous waste sites in their wake. Their company, Gaess Environmental Services/Earthline, represented a partnership between subsidiaries of Scientific, Inc., and SCA Services, Inc., both incorporated in Delaware. SCA was subsequently acquired by Waste Management, Inc., the largest waste disposal conglomerate in the country.
The relationship between the various companies is shown below:
|SCA Services, Inc.
(Now Waste Management, Inc.)
SCA Services of Passaic, Inc.
(subsidiary of SCA; formerly was Earthline Company)
aka: Gaess Environmental Services Co.
R&R Sanitation/Carl Gulick, Inc.
(a Gaess subsidiary)357
EXTRACTS FROM MEMO FROM
Even while it was illegally dumping hazardous wastes in the Cortese landfill, Gaess Environmental was issued two DEC permits in 1974 -- one to haul septic wastes and another to transport chemical wastes to Chemtrol Pollution Services (now Waste Management) in Model City, New York, and the other to the Kin-Buc landfill in Edison, New Jersey,368 which has the distinction of being one of the most notorious hazdardous dumpsites in the country.369 Anthony Gaess was also one of the operators of Kin-Buc, which was owned by Scientific and SCA. Until 1976 Kin-Buc was the largest chemical waste disposal facility in the Northeast. According to the EPA, the operators of the landfill dumped millions of gallons of untreated liquid chemical wastes directly in to the Raritan River. EPA has filed a lawsuit against Gaess Environmental, SCA and Scientific, asking for penalties and cleanup funds, which EPA estimated at $15 million.370
A massive lawsuit by approximately 100 local residents and others who had come in contact with the landfill has been brought against 650 defendants for damages based on injuries alleged to have been caused by the landfill. The defendants are generators, owners and operators of the landfill, haulers and several local municipalities.371
Gaess Environmental did not limit its illegal operations to the hazardous waste business. DEC documents indicate that shortly after it received its septic haulers permit it was found dumping what appeared to be septic wastes at the Rockland County sewage treatment plant with unregistered vehicles. An unregistered tank-truck belonging to All County Septic was also discovered doing the same thing.372
In February 1975 Gaess Environmental's hazardous waste transporter permit was renewed, authorizing the company to haul chemical wastes, waste oil and chemical sludges to Chemtrol and Modern Transportation in New Jersey. In an accompanying letter, which shows the triumph of hope over experience, DEC advised Gaess: "Please note that you can transport only the following types of waste and use only the following disposal sites:373
This was in response to an internal DEC memo on Gaess Environmental Services in which DEC people noted that Gaess was disposing of wastes at the City of Newburgh Sewerage Treatment Plant, Town of Warwick Lagoon site and the Orange County landfill -- all in violation of his permit. The DEC memo made note of the fact that the department had determined "to notify Gaess of all approved sites, to put him on notice, and to make future violations clear ones."374 A registered letter went to Gaess Environmental from DEC, stipulating the conditions and giving him a permit to haul only the septic wastes to Darrigo Farm.375 Several weeks later he was found to have dumped illeglly 30,000 to 100,000 gallons of wastewater contaminated with lead at that farm. The wastewater was supposed to have been destined for an approved disposal site in New Jersey. However, an Orange County Health Department memorandum indicates that Gaess may have illegally hauled the hazardous wastes from Flexible Fabrication in Port Jervis to the Darrigo Farm.376
Across the border, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection directed the Kin-Buc landfill to discontinue the acceptance of liquids, chemicals and hazardous wastes in July 1976.377 DEP then proceeded with the process of revoking the permit for Kin-Buc to accept any wastes; and at the same time it began review of a proposal for a treatment and secure landfill facility adjacent to Kin-Buc.
The same day that Kin-Buc closed, Seymour Rosenfarb, R&R Sanitation's (a subsidiary of Gaess Environmental) facility manager, applied to DEC for a permit to haul liquid industrial wastes to Kin-Buc, as well as two other treatment facilities.378
It is curious that Rosenfarb, who was also an officer in Gaess Environmental, which was one of the operators of Kin-Buc, should have applied for a permit to haul hazardous wastes to the now defunct facility. Even more curious was the fact that he also signed his name on the application as manager of Kin-Buc, which he was not, thereby committing perjury, punishable as a Class A misdemeanor.
DEC obligingly corrected the permit to reflect the fact that Kin-Buc would no longer accept hazardous wastes.379 Rosenfarb was guilty of the same lapse of memory in 1977 when in applying for a permit renewal for R&R he again affixed his name as manager of the Kin-Buc landfill, signifying his intention to accept hazardous wastes from R&R.380 Again, DEC simply approved the permit for all sites except Kin-Buc.381
In October 1982 R&R's permit was amended to include the Merion Blue Grass Sod Farm in Wawayanda, Orange County, New York, as a disposal site for septic waste and sludge from New Jersey.382 The company's hazardous waste permit remained in effect until April 30, 1985. The firm was absorbed by SCA.383 R&R Sanitation and Seymour Rosenfarb were indicted for criminal antitrust offenses in New Jersey on July 25, 1984.384
DEC notified Gaess Environmental Services that it was considering revocation of its permit for septic tank cleaning and industrial waste collecting. A hearing notice was sent in March l977,385 but by April Gaess had managed to have the permit renewed. He had even proceeded to ask for a reduction in the amount of paperwork he had to do in submitting reports, overlooking, of course, the fact that his own dubious activities had made the paperwork necessary.386
In 1978 Gaess Environmental Services, perhaps feeling the burden of its past environmental transgressions, joined SCA and, changing its name to Earthline Company, obtained DEC permits for 60 vehicles to transport hazardous wastes to disposal sites in New York and New Jersey. This was 20 times the number of vehicles it had listed in its 1975 application.387 The Cortese landfill was added to the State's inactive inventory of hazardous waste sites and Jeffrey Gaess closed his office in Harriman. Neither the EPA nor DEC noticed any of the connections. Now operating as an SCA employee, Gaess was awarded a three-year contract to operate a transfer station in Ardsley for Westchester County.388
According to Kaufman, Gaess commingled hazardous wastes at the transfer station, which were then hauled by Suburban Carting to the Al Turi landfill.
The committee chairman questioned Harold Kaufman about the Ardsley transfer station at the hearings:
Chairman Hinchey: Moving back home again, there was a situation involving a contract in Yonkers. Can you tell us anything about that?
Kaufman: I guess you mean the transfer station?
Chairman Hinchey: Yes.
Kaufman: The transfer station was done by SCA, under contract to operate the station. Tony Gaess, who was a partner and a friend of mine, a toxic waste disposer in New Jersey, put his brother in charge. This waste that came from this transfer station, which was unbelievably commingled, was taken to Al Turi landfill by truck, by Tommy Milo.
Now SCA has given it up and the Mongellis have taken over the operation of the transfer station.389
Jeffrey Gaess also used the Orange County landfill in Goshen to dispose of 200 tons a day of Westchester County waste.390
In July l980 DEC was informed that illegal commingling of hazardous wastes had occured at another transfer station in Harriman, once operated by Gaess. Environmental conservation officers, acting on a tip, swept the area with a U.S. Army mine detector and discovered two buried tankers and numerous buried barrels.391 Samples taken from the tankers revealed high levels of benzene, chloroform, toluene, 1-2 dichlorobenzene and l3 other toxic chemicals in a material that resembled sludge.392 The burial site is located 250 feet from a well that provides drinking water to the Village of Harriman. Subsequent tests of the well water showed the presence of toxic chemicals at low levels.393
In the summer of 1981 a worker for the parent corporation, SCA, unearthed the two tankers and discovered that one was registered to R&R Sanitation.394 SCA removed the abandoned tankers and agreed to monitor the groundwater for chemical contaminants.395
As already disclosed, during the late 1970s the White Plains office of the OCTF, the State's Organized Crime Task Force under John Fine, had an undercover investigation going on in connection with illegal dumping of hazardous wastes. A taped conversation between two employees of Gaess Environmental Services, recorded somewhere in Harriman, suggested that there was reason for being concerned about contamination of the groundwater.
One worker is explaining to the other the difficulty he had in finding a place in the landfill to bury his load. The other is not sure what is in the load:
Worker A: What kind of shit? What do you mean?
Worker B: Chemicals.
Worker A: I know chemicals -- but I mean, what's so bad that -- you know -- I mean, the shit melt the rocks, or what?
Worker B: Acid, fucking corrosives, fucking dyes, and kinds of shit, man. I'm telling you. ...
Worker A: Acids and corrosives? In that hospital?
Worker B: Yeah. Fucking water, ah, main fucking, ah, Harriman water pump is right down the fucking, across the street there.
Worker A: Nobody ever checked it?
Worker B: Well, nobody I knew. I don't know. Check the water pump? I guess ... I guess they do check it. And that fucking -- that water well wasn't in ... it wasn't drilled through rock either. It was fucking through gravel. It was through fucking sand and shit.
Worker A: What do you mean? The one they are pumping on?
Worker B: Yeah, that, that fucking, ah. ...
Worker A: That artesian well thing there?
Worker B: Yeah.
Worker A: That little red building?
Worker B: Yeah. You know, if you could drill a well through rock, you could drill a well through ... you know, just like sand and. ...
Worker A: Yeah, you don't have to go as deep.
Worker B: -- gravel and shit.
Worker A: Yeah, right.
Worker B: But that fucker wasn't through any solid rock.
Worker A: So all the chemicals were flowing right in to the fucking thing?
Worker B: Holy Christ!
Worker A: Holy Christ!
Worker B: Fucking Don came down there a couple of times and raised hell about shit he'd seen [unclear] around that yard there.
Worker A: But he never did anything?
Worker B: No, he didn't.
Worker A: Good old Don Hunter. Is he still there?
Worker B: Ah, yeah, I guess so, Jeff took care of him.
Worker A: Oh yeah?
Worker B: He took him there.
Worker A: Kept the man happy?
Worker B: Sure.
Worker A: Paid him right the fuck off?
Worker B: Yeah, he wouldn't say anything.
Worker A: He's the kind of guy that wouldn't, you know.
-- Tape presented at John Fine's testimony before the
New York State Assembly Environmental
Conservation Committee Hearings396
Note: The Don referred to above is believed to be Don Hunter, the former water superintendent of Harriman. John Fine substantiates that the Jeff referred to is Jeffrey Gaess.397
After John Fine was fired from the OCTF the aggressive type of inquiries he had conducted into the Gaess operations were halted.
The same adaptability that kept Russell Mahler one step ahead of the law for scores of years also benefitted the Gaess brothers. Gaess Environnmental was among the companies alleged to have bribed New York City Department of Sanitation official John Cassiliano to dump illegally "thousands of gallons of toxic wastes and oil sludges in the City's municipal landfills and other locations in New York City."398 Gaess is reported to have paid Cassiliano $40,000 in bribes from 1973 to 1974 at from $50 to $100 per load for the favor.399
The pattern of the Gaess operations was similar in many respects to that of Russell Mahler; and the ineffectiveness of authorized agencies in dealing with chronic and determined violators is seen to be once again confirmed. It is essential that agencies track such individuals early on and be prepared to act vigorously when regulations are not adhered to. There is no question that even with the laws now in effect, the agencies could have acted more decisively and at an earlier date in both the Mahler and Gaess situations.
To hear him tell it, "It was as if, through a voice in the night, God is telling me, 'The time to build this national company is right now, Tom, and you're the man to do it!' I had chill bumps all over my arms and back."400
Thus, Tom Fatjo Jr., Rice University graduate and partner in an accounting firm described the moment at which he first dreamed of forming the "largest and best" solid waste company of its kind in the world.401
That moment occurred as he sat in his Minneapolis hotel room one day in 1968 and watched paper swirling in the wind-blown streets below.
Two years later he had bought three garbage companies in the Minneapolis area, providing the necessary revenues for eventually building Browning-Ferris Industries, Inc. (BFI) into a huge international corporation, which was to become second only to Waste Management, Inc. Ten years later Fatjo left his own company and another Houstonite, whom Fatjo had bought out earlier and brought into his company, stayed on to become regional vice president and largest stockholder among company officers. Ed Drury, a former mailman, had started his garbage business in 1948 with a single truck. His son, John Drury, by 1982 had become chief operating officer at BFI's Houston headquarters.402
Harry Phillips, who took over the reins of president and chief operations officer in 1970, later moving on to become chief executive officer in 1977, also started out from small beginnings. In 1955, at the age of 23, he started a company in Memphis with two trucks. In 1962 he began a new waste company in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before merging with BFI in 1970.403
Such success stories quickly become part of the American business legend. But not everyone takes so kind a view. There are those who accuse BFI of the same kind of piracy practiced by many 19th century American entrepreneurs.
Rather than becoming a national company which, as envisioned by Fatjo, "would provide the independent companies a chance to be on a team of superior operators who could take care of any regional bullies who threatened to wipe them out,"404 BFI itself became the bully, according to many independent operators, engaging in price wars to take away their accounts and drive them out of business.405
BFI and Waste Management, Inc., are the two acknowledged leaders in the waste disposal industry. SCA, referred to frequently in this report, was the third giant, but it became a subsidiary of Waste Management following a series of scandals and investigations concerning its operations.406
In 1981 the chairman of SCA, John M. Fox, in testimony before the House of Representatives Hearing on Organized Crime Links to the Waste Disposal Industry, conceded the company's past problems, at the same time that he insisted that the company was currently operating in an honest and above-board manner. His testimony is worth summarizing.
SCA began operations in 1970 as a diversified service organization specializing in office building maintenance, vending machine sales and waste disposal services. It soon
abandoned the first two areas and concentrated on waste disposal, acquiring a string of companies between 1970 and 1973.
At the time the small, solid waste companies were acquired by SCA, they were ill-equiped both managerially and financially to meet the increasingly stringent environmental regulations that were being imposed upon them by state and federal authorities. The acquired companies also lacked the resources to deal with the enormous increase in the volume of waste that was being generated in the areas of their operations. Thus, as the era of permissible open dumping was coming to a close in the nation's waste disposal industry -- to be replaced by a new era demanding heavily regulated sanitary landfills and costly incineration under strictly controlled conditions -- the day of the small, family owned and operated garbage collection company was drawing to a close as well.407
SCA realized it had to retrench: it had bitten off more than it could chew. It was having difficulty in maintaining profitability. Then, in 1975, management learned that its then-president, Christopher Recklitis, had defrauded SCA out of several million dollars. It was also discovered that Burton Steir, the company's founder, was implicated.
The company was reorganized and a new board of directors appointed. The company was also investigated by the SEC for securities violations.
Tom Viola had assumed the presidencay of the company at this time and was credited with returning it to profitability.408 However, in 1980 Harold Kaufman, in testimony before the congressional committee, made allegations that Viola was associated with organized crime and that SCA was connected with the murders of two of its competitors, Gabriel San Felice and Alfred DiNardi.409 SCA, reeling from allegations that were made against it, was eventually taken over Waste Management, Inc.
In 1985 BFI, together with Air Products and Chemicals, Inc, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, embarked on a joint venture with American Ref-Fuel, a Houston firm, to rebuild the Town of Hempstead's resource recovery plant, which had been closed in 1980 after two years of troubled operation due to releases of dioxin in the smokestack emissions. This is the first such effort American Ref-Fuel has undertaken.410
The original plant, built by Parson and Whittemore of Manhattan, had been enthusiastically promoted by U.S. Senator Alphonse D'Amato when he was Hempstead Town Supervisor in the 1970s. At that time, D'Amato had been quoted as saying, "If it doesn't work, we haven't risked one penny of the taxpayers' money."411
But the plant, which cost $140 million, has now been closed over five years and will cost $350 million to rebuild, with American Ref-Fuel investing only $55 million of its own money. In the meantime, the town's garbage problems have become critical because of the closure of landfills due to the threat of pollution to the air and groundwater.
BFI currently has a contract to haul 700 tons a day of Hempstead garbage to the DeMarco landfill in Goshen, New York, at a cost of $56 a ton. This will add $8 million to $12 million annually to the taxpayers' expenses for the next three years. State Assemblyman Armand D'Amato, brother of U.S. Senator Alphone D'Amato, acted as attorney for BFI, as well as American Ref-Fuel, in the negotiations with the town. He is quoted as having claimed that only BFI had "the scope" to deal with Hempstead's garbage problems.412 This was how others saw it.
Presiding Hempstead Supervisor Thomas Gulotta said at a March 7, 1985, press conference that the town would open bids from about 50 companies on March 9 to haul out of town the 705 tons of waste generated daily."413
During the first two weeks of March, Gulotta and other town officials moved with unparalleled speed, signing a three-year, $30 million agreement. Long Island carters complained, as did the town employees' union. The carters said they had too little time to prepare bids for the job.414
On March 3 the town had advertised for bids. On March 9 the three bids that had thus far been received were opened. On March 13, six days before the March 19 deadline, the town board rejected the two low bids as unacceptable and awarded the contract to BFI -- the company the town had been negotiating a solution with -- through Armand D'Amato -- for months until talks had collapsed in February.415
A Long Island hauling association and several private carters claimed that there were up to ten firms that, had they been given sufficient time to prepare bids, could have handled the job and might have been able to do it for less money.416
Two employees' unions believe that Hempstead violated an agreement that the union be consulted on any move that might affect the jobs of their members.417
The facts are these: BFI was the highest bidder. The low bidder, Cedar Brook Contracting Corporation, was rejected because it did not have a performance bond. The middle bidder, International Marine Consultants, Inc., with all the earmarks of a courtesy bid, signified it could not begin operations for a year and a half.418
BFI had won a three-year, $30 million agreement that is the largest garbage hauling contract in Long island's history.419
BFI is also involved in the American Ref-Fuel rebuilding of the closed plant, which will cost $350 million and is expected to be fully operational by l989.420
At this committee's hearing on September 9, 1984, Steven J. Madonna, a deputy attorney general with the New Jersey Criminal Justice Department and chief of its Environmental Prosecution Section, made some comments that could be helpful in evaluating the BFI contract with the Town of Hempstead.
Mr. Madonna explained how illegal control of the municipal garbage industry is exercised through a system of territorial allocations whereby certain towns "belong" to certain carters. Disposers arrange among themselves who will win what bids for what towns and villages. The control of the system is then maintained through a series of strong-arm techniques. These techniques include arranged problems with the securing of bonds for any outsider or legitimate competitor, difficulties in having trucks or equipment repaired, economic reprisal or intimidation, as well as bodily harm. An example would be an outside carter attempting to place a bid where an insider has already staked a claim. The outside carter suddenly finds that his bonding agent refuses to give him the required bond. The bonding agent has been "gotten to." He has been told that if he writes this bond he will lose substantial business writing other bonds. The effect of this tactic, and the others, is to restrict competition and to increase dramatically the cost of garbage removal to the consumers in the State.421
Ths would not be the first time BFI had been involved in questionable activities. It is no stranger to controversy or, for that matter, indictments. In Atlanta, Georgia, BFI
was charged with conspiracy in unreasonable restraint of interstate trade and commerce. The conspiracy allegedly began at least as early as November 1974 and continued until at least January 1979. Additional defendants included Georgia Waste Systems, Inc., Complete Refuse Removal, Inc., and SCA Services of Georgia, Inc.422
The conspiracy involved the dividing up of waste disposal customers and the raising, fixing, maintaining and stabilizing of prices of garbage service in the Atlanta area. The defendants and co-conspirators refrained from soliciting the business of each other's established customers; they discouraged each other's established customers from changing waste disposal service companies by submitting intentionally high bids or price quotations to those customers; and they fixed price lists between them for potential customers not currently doing business with any of the conspiring companies. In effect, they restrained competition, the freedom of customers to do business with a company of their choice was restricted, and prices were fixed at artificially high and noncompetitive levels.423
BFI pleaded no contest to these charges and paid a $350,000 fine. James Baker, the BFI manager, went to jail for 38 days and while he remained on probation, he was back with the company supervising landfill operations in Maryland and Virginia. When asked to comment by the Wall Street Journal he referred the request to headquarters.424
According to a Wall Street Journal article this pattern and others that are similar are repeated ad nauseam. In Houston, the McCarty Road refuse dump has two entrances, one for BFI and one for all the other disposal companies that wait in line, sometimes hours to get inside the gate. BFI owns and operates the dump. The other carters say they cannot compete, not only because of the long waits, but because BFI increases their dumping fees every six months or so.425
In a federal court case in Houston, BFI was charged with paying off a state senator to block authorization for a competing landfill. According to a suit filed by Conservation Management, Inc., BFI paid $25,000 to put an end to consideration of a 982-acre landfill. In a deposition sealed by the court, but previously published in excerpt, the state senator acknowledged accepting the money and voicing disapproval of the landfill to a state health official, on whose recommendation the state rejected Conservation Management, Inc.'s permit. The senator also acknowledged a business relationship with BFI, having sold the property to BFI for one of its Houston landfills.426
The state senator subsequently denied impropriety, explaining that he was paid the money from BFI as a legal fee. Conservation Management also alleges that BFI maintained a secret fund to bankroll citizens' opposition to the competing landfill.427
In New Jersey, the state's attorney general alleged that BFI conspired with 23 other haulers to divide up customers among themselves and to fix prices in six counties.428
Chambers Development Corporation of Pittsburgh sued BFI in federal court there. In this suit, a BFI subcontractor said in a deposition that the general manager of BFI's local operation "bragged" about "payoffs" and "manipulation" of local health officials -- in some cases for the purpose of harassing competitors. The deposition alleges that the general manager paid $50,000 to a local hauler who, in turn, induced a city official to pay him and the general manager based on bogus invoices.429
A landfill operator in Pittsburgh has sworn that she received $57,000 from the general manager, in part for her role in rigging bids for county sewage contracts with BFI and another hauler.430
In Denver, ll small carters sued BFI charging that the company monopolized the dumps it owns, raised charges that others must pay to use them, slashed its own prices, thus putting the smaller companies in a classic price squeeze.431
A former sales manager of a competing company in Houston reported the following scenario:
First, BFI regularly increased the competitor's dumping fees; at the same time it went to the competitor's customers and offered one, two or three months' free service; and finally, BFI bought out the competitor at a distressed-sale price. A former BFI salesman concurs. BFI supervisors, he recalls, hit the streets at 1:00 a.m. for seven days, following the competitor's trucks and collecting the names of customers, to whom they then offered 50 percent price-cuts and free service432
BFI, through its general counsel, Howard Hoover, Jr., takes the position with regard to the various lawsuits that it is impossible for the company to keep constant watch on the actions of employees in each of its fairly autonomous operating locations worldwide.433
In this connection, it is interesting to contrast this with a statement made by Harry Phillips, president of BFI, in an interview given to Solid Waste Management in June 1979:
I think the greatest improvement in productivity will simply be a result of improved supervisory and management attention and techniques. I don't think we are currently talking about any technical innovation that will add greatly to productivity. I think we have adequate technology within the industry today in terms of trucks, compaction bodies, container-handling systems and that type of thing. But I think the industry has not always used its very best efforts in achieving the right sort of volume productivity, even given good equipment and good personnel. It is not that we think our personnel are not willing to be I productive; it's that we don't think management in many cases is giving the personnel the right sort of standards by which they can measure themselves and by which we can measure them. [Emphasis added.]434
It remains to be seen whether or not corporate giants such as BFI will ever chart a course completely free of the influence of organized crime. In the case of SCA the evidence pointed strongly to heavy involvement, and company officials had so much difficulty in answering the charges that were made against it that it is doubtful that it could have continued as an independent entity.
BFI has not had a good record, having used many of the same tactics associated with the organized crime carters discussed in this report.
An optimist could argue that as these conglomerates grow larger they would gradually become a part of mainstream corporate enterprise, shedding their connections with the mob as they further developed the economies of large-scale operations.
A pessimist, on the other hand, could argue just as cogently, that they would find it more profitable to work within the parameters established by organized crime even while they also profited from the economies of large-scale operations.
FROM THE DESK OF ...
Quoted below, without comment, is an excerpt from a letter James J. Corrigan, Executive Director of the Private Sanitation Industry Association Nassau/Suffolk, Inc., sent nationwide in November 1984:435
President John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what YOU can do for your country." It was a stirring moment in our history, especially since our democracy was challenged to its very core.
Long Island, which, unlike much of New York State, is not only surrounded on all sides by water but also underneath, benefits from huge underground freshwater aquifers that are its principle source of drinking water. The importance of these aquifers to the health and economy of Long Islanders is obvious, and yet, those aquifers have already proved to be highly vulnerable. Many kinds of groundwater contamination exist. For example, in 1979 testing of wells in the vicinity of potato farms on the eastern end of Long Island showed the presence of a pesticide containing aldicarb in levels exceeding permissible limits, and Union Carbide withdrew the product. In other parts of Long Island rapid commercial and residential development has led to chemical contamination of public water supplies and the closure of numerous public wells. To a lesser extent the reduction of permeable acreage has made the aquifers susceptible to the intrusion of seawater.
But Long Island's problems do not end there. Its 2.6 million inhabitants, crowded into a relatively small geographical area, produce 10,000 tons of garbage each day.436 A 1983 law mandates that the towns phase out their landfills by 1990 because of the threat to the water supply. Some of them have turned to resource recovery plants to mitigate the problem. However, as already mentioned, in 1980 the Town of Hempstead had to shut down its plant because of dioxin emissions. The City of Glen Cove has its plant still in operation but it is faced with the problem of finding a place to dispose of its ash.
Long Island's problem has been made even worse by the fact that its solid waste hauling industry has long been dominated by what appears to be a tripartite working arrangement between organized crime, waste trade associations operating as fronts for organized crime and corrupt local officials.
This is not a new development. In 1957 Long Island's carting industry was one of the targets of Senator McClellan's committee hearings. In 1985 it again made headlines when the New York Times revealed the story of the taped conversations that had taken place between Lucchese crime family boss Antonio "Tony Ducks" Corallo and his chauffeur and lieutenant Salvatore Avellino Jr. as they drove from place to place during their business operations, unaware of the "bug" that had been placed in their Jaguar437 (see excerpts on pages 8 and 9).
Those tapes had led to the indictment of Corallo, Salvatore Santoro, his underboss, and Avellino, among others, in 1984.
According to the indictment, the Private Sanitation Industry Association of Nassau/Suffolk, Inc. (PSI) arranged and enforced illegal agreements between carters to reduce competition, allocate customers and circumvent bidding procedures. PSI was charged with being a tool of the Lucchese crime family. Avellino, a carter and PSI board member, and others collected from about 24 carters more than $50,000 each on a quarterly basis, which was then divided equally between Corallo, boss of the Lucchese family, and Paul Castellano, head of the Gambino family.438 Castellano was shot down and killed in December 1985 as he emerged from his limousine in front of a midtown Manhattan steak house. The typical gangland slaying received appropriate front-page coverage and occurred at a time when Castellano was a defendant in another trial in which Gambino family members were accused of running a car theft ring.439
Local 813 of the Teamsters Union, which has represented the carters on Long Island and New York City, is alleged to have split into two parts, 813 and 813A, as a result of a negotiated agreement between the Lucchese and Gambino crime families. Local 813 is under the control of Michael Fleischer and the same Bernard Adelstein who was one of the targets in Senator McClellan's investigations some 30 years ago. The indictment charges that PSI organized and enforced a customer allocation scheme in which commercial, residential and governmental customers were divided among carters.440 Stops sold for as high as 20 to 1. (In New York City stops have sold for as high as 60 to 1.441) If a carter offered better service or a more competitive rate and thereby took a stop from another carter, he was expected to provide compensation for the loss. If he refused, other companies would solicit his customers at artifically low prices in an attempt to underbid him and "steal" the stops back. This price war would continue until the carter agreed to pay the compensation.442
Arthur Romersa and Vito Biondo of the Department of Environmental Control in the Town of Huntington were charged with influencing the town board to vote favorably on a rate increase for garbage collection in return for a promise from Avellino, James Corrigan, the executive director of PSI, and others that contributions would be made to Democratic candidates.443 Kenneth Deegan, a Republican member of the town board, was indicted for allegedly agreeing to vote for the rate increase in return for contributions to his campaign.444
Romersa was also charged with arranging, at the request of Corrigan, landfill inspections to harass a rebel carter and with preventing the mailing of bid packets to prospective bidders for the contract for residential garbage collection in one of the town's sanitation districts to ensure that the contract would be awarded to Sail Carting and Recycling, Inc., owned by Anthony Vespucci.445
Peter Finnerty, Bureau Chief of the downstate area, State Department of Motor Vehicles, by his own admission a close friend of Corrigan, was accused of using his position to run checks on license plates for Corrigan while he was under surveillance by the OCTF because Corrigan wanted to know whose cars were following him. Finnerty is also charged with trying to obtain information from a high-level executive at the New York Telephone Company regarding wiretapping of Corrigan's phone lines and attempting to garner the same information from the Suffolk County sheriff. Evidence given to the grand jury indicated that the sheriff did provide Finnerty and Corrigan with information concerning the investigation.446
Jo-Ann Raia, the Huntington town clerk, was indicted for her alleged role in Corrigan's plan to manipulate the vote in the rate increase. The OCTF taped a conversation between Raia and a Corrigan aide in which Raia agreed to hold off on issuing town permits to carters who were offering collection rates that would have competed with Corrigan's proposed increases.447
The Attorney General found that in 1982 the total revenues from garbage collection services provided by the defendants and "unnamed conspirators" in Nassau and Suffolk counties for publicly bid contracts alone were in excess of $23 million.448 The civil suit charges the individual defendants with rigging bids for contractors with the Amityville, Copiague and Wyandanch school districts in Suffolk County, the Massapequa and Hicksville school districts in Nassau, the Massapequa Park Residential District, residential districts in North Hempstead township, the Village of Freeport and the State University at Stony Brook.449
The three-year ongoing investigation into mob control of the Long Island garbage industry came to a halt in the spring of 1985, with the OCTF director blaming its conclusion on manpower shortages, court delays and a top-priority probe of the New York City construction industry ordered by Governor Cuomo.450 This was a probe that was supposed to crush organized crime's domination of the Long Island private sanitation industry. The sensational disclosure of conversations that took place between mob figures in a "bugged" Jaguar made good reading but may not stand up sufficiently against the barrage of the expensive and almost limitless challenges of organized crime's attorneys. The bribery and conspiracy charges against Huntington Councilman Kenneth Deegan have been dismissed on technical grounds, and the motions, trials and subsequent appeals on the pending cases could last more than two years.451 It is altogether possible that no convictions will result.
Another phase of the OCTF investigation had targeted suspected ties between Local 813, mob-owned carting companies and a well-financed charity organization with offices on the Queens-Nassau border. A source close to the probe said that the grand jury had subpoenaed the charity organization's records, but was disbanded after it took "an extraordinary amount of time to receive the documents."452
Another disappointment was the belated discovery by the OCTF that two of those indicted as a result of its investigation of Suffolk County corruption in the carting industry -- Emedio Fazzini, owner of Jamaica Ash and Rubbish Removal of Westbury, and Joseph Pezza, an official of A-l Carting Company of Glen Cove -- were immune from prosecution because of testimony given earlier to a Nassau County grand jury. The officials in the three law enforcement agencies involved admitted that the situation was a result of "a breakdown in communications" and a State immunity law that is more restrictive than those in other states and in the federal statutes.453
The Hempstead scandal, involving BFI and prominent public officials has already been discussed in Section Ten, but another case that received much attention in the press was the Multi-town Project conceived in the 1970s, which involved Babylon, Hungtinton, Islip and Smithtown in a plan to build a recycling plant. Smithtown dropped out of the project in 1973 and the three remaining towns decided to build an electrical generating plant that would use garbage for fuel. The project collapsed completely in 1983 -- at a cost to the taxpayers of Babylon and Huntington of $9 million. (Islip by then had also dropped out of the picture.) Hearings by the SIC made it clear that there were many forces at work preventing the project from succeeding.454
The Babylon Republican politican leader, Syd Askoff, stated that in 1978 he decided Multi-Town should hire an international engineering firm with a reputation that was above reproach. However, he made it clear to the firm, Metcalf and Eddy, that he wanted Holzmacher, McLendon and Murrell (H2M) to be selected as their subcontractor. The contracts with the two firms, as well as with other consulting and legal firms according to the State investigators, cost Multi-Town $3.8 million, more than one-third of the project's entire expenditure. Indeed, H2M received $1.6 million in fees, one-third more than Metcalf and Eddy, the main contractor.455
Explaining this in his testimony, Askoff said, "Patronage is a political fact of life. This is the way for a political leader to deal honestly."456
Robert Holzmacher of H2M, who attributed his business success in part to $92,000 in political contributions over a five-year period, claimed, "It's part of the American system."457
It certainly was part of the Multi-Town project. The SIC hearings uncovered example after example of questionable expenditures to firms making substantial political contributions.
At the time the project was abandoned the costs for the plant had risen from an original estimate of $62.5 million to $200 million. Nevertheless, the decisive factor in finally killing the project was probably the opposition of PSI, which was concerned that it would jeopardize the interests of the private carters. At the SIC hearings, an executive of BFI, which had expected to get the construction contract, testified that at a meeting with Avellino and Corrigan he was told the carters were afraid BFI would take their routes. Corrigan asked if the carting industry could buy a piece of Multi-Town, but was told that to do this the carters would first have to open their books to an outside auditor, and the subject was not raised again. Avellino, Corrigan and other carters also had a meeting with Anthony Noto, Babylon Supervisor, about the same time in order to persuade him that the project was not a good one.458
The SIC said that it hoped its investigation would encourage recommendations for new laws that would minimize the role of politicis in municipal activities. Under current State law, consulting contracts can be awarded without competitive bidding. The SIC recommends that the State should have a direct oversight responsibility for the management of agencies of local governments procuring resource recovery facilities. It should approve the selection of consultants, staff and contracts.459
Long Island's environment is particularly vulnerable to groundwater contamination. Its proximity to New York City has also made it vulnerable to the worst aspects of the private carting industry. The McClellan committee hearings in 1957 noted corruption and mob influence at that time. The subsequent history of the industry indicates that the problem has not been solved and that the cast of characters has not changed that much in the intervening years. Recent scandals have involved political officials in both parties.
Long Island's plight differs from other areas of the State only in that it has less room to maneuver. The much-used cliche "a time bomb waiting to explode" does not sufficiently describe the Long Island situation: the bomb may have already exploded -- somewhere in those underground aquifers.
In an effort to prevent future increases in the contamination of Long Island's drinking-water supply, legislation was enacted in 1983 that will conditionally phase out landfills by 1990. The law also requires a double lining for new landfills and mandates that they be located outside deep-flow recharge areas.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO A WELL-EDUCATED GENTLEMAN
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.
This chart is a diagram of information contained in the report "Organized Crime's Involvment in the Waste Hauling lndustry", produced in July 1986 by the Chairman of the New York State Assembly Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation. The focus of this chart is the case studies.