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Topic: The never ending Rizzo Trash deal
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El Supremo


The American recycling business is a mess: Can Big Waste fix it?
Workers sorting at the Waste Management Elkridge Material Recycling Facility in Elkridge, Md.
Workers sorting at the Waste Management Elkridge Material Recycling Facility in Elkridge, Md. Photograph by The Washington Post/Getty Images
By CLAIRE GRODEN September 3, 2015
In 1987, a tugboat named Mobro 4000 set out from New York Harbor with more than 6 million pounds of decaying waste collected from across New York City. The trash-bearing vessel was bound for a landfill in North Carolina, where it was refused. It then wandered as far as Mexico and Belize, looking for a place to unload.

Newspapers followed the tugboats 5,000-mile voyage, sounding alarm bells over a national garbage crisis. Johnny Carson led The Tonight Show by suggesting the Mobro make a beeline for Iran, and a New York Times editorial called it a floating Paul Revere, warning Americans of the threat of their trash.

After months of rejection, the barge eventually returned with its trash to New York, where it was festooned with an enormous banner, drawn up by Greenpeace activists, that read, Next Time Try Recycling. Suddenly, America had to pay attention to its garbage problem.

In 1988, Houston-based Waste Management, the nations leading garbage hauler, launched its first large-scale curbside-recycling program under the direction of a man named Bill Moore, the companys first recycling director. At the time, only about 10% of the countrys trash was recycled. But throughout the 1990s and 2000s, recycling programs mushroomed across the country: by 2015, the recycling rate had more than tripled, and Waste Management had become the largest residential recycler on the continent. The runner-up, Republic Services, recycled almost 5 million tons in 2014; Waste Management (WM, +1.39%) recycled more than 15 million tons.

Today, the companys biggest challenge has little to do with the competitionits the business of recycling itself thats the problem.

Profits across the recycling industry have been in free fall, due to technical challenges, changes in both manufacturing and consumer behavior, and waning demand for recycled materials. Since 2011, Waste Managements earnings from recycling have declined by $200 million. During some quarters, it has lost money on the business. By the end of the year, it will have shuttered 10% of its recycling facilities, with another 10% under consideration for closure. Other recycling companies have closed shop completely.

1987: Members of Greenpeace display banner saying "Next Time...Try Recycling" aboard Mobro garbage barge in Gravesend Bay
1987: Members of Greenpeace display banner saying "Next Time...Try Recycling" aboard Mobro garbage barge in Gravesend Bay Photo by New York Daily News Archive NY Daily News via Getty Images

This is a crisis for the future of recycling, David Steiner, the CEO of Waste Management, says. Momentum has been up, up, up for the last 20 years, and now, its stalling. Its down, down, down.

The U.S. recycling rate began to stall at around 34% of all waste in 2010. And while most recycling experts agree that the business needs to evolve, few have addressed the problem with as much urgency as Waste Management.

A perfect storm

Americas trash is a commodity, just like oil or wheat. Once a company like Waste Management processes and sorts the items that get thrown in the blue bins, the bales are sold to manufacturers, often in China. But for the past few years, the value of these bales has fallen dramatically between 2013 and 2014, the price of recycled corrugated cardboard dropped by almost 24%.

The markets are cyclical, and recycling has seen many ups and downs before, says Bill Moore, who is now the president of recycling consulting firm Moore & Associates. But the current doldrums have been especially long and taxing, in part due to low oil prices. Since plastic is made from petroleum, rock-bottom oil prices mean that its cheaper for producers to simply make new plastic than use recycled material. The problem is compounded by the softening economy in China. As its exports dwindle, so does its once-ravenous appetite for the recycled material used to produce them. Steiner says he still doesnt see a bottom to the price decline.

But the industrys problems go deeper than that. American habits are working against recyclers: Between 2000 and 2013, the amount of paper and paperboard Americans have sent to facilities has dropped 22%. Meanwhile, the volume of plasticswhich are less lucrative because their diversity and lightness make them harder to sorthas increased by 27%. And plastic is becoming even more lightweight as companies introduce packaging that uses less material, resulting in containers that take up the same amount of space but offer less resale value to recyclers. These changing material ratioswhat the industry calls an evolving tonhave led to higher processing costs for recyclers, as they have to push much larger volumes of waste through their facilities to yield each one-ton bale of raw material.

The evolving ton also includes more items than ever that simply arent recyclable, like dirty diapers, animal carcasses, syringes, and plastic bags. Waste Management says that contamination of its recycling stream has doubled in the past decade. Now, an average of one in six items dumped in blue bins is not recyclable, gumming up processing facilities and jacking up costs. Some recycling facilities have to shut down once an hour so that workers can cut layers of plastic bags off the machinery. Thats because of what Sharon Kneiss, the CEO of the National Waste and Recycling Association, calls aspirational recyclinga habit of throwing non-recyclable materials into bins because they might or should be recyclable. But Kneiss term may be a little too generous: the rise of contamination in the recycling stream can also be attributed to pure laziness. In one National Waste and Recycling Association survey, nearly one in ten Americans admitted to throwing their waste in recycling bins when trash cans were full.

The recycling systems quality problem is often linked to single-stream recyclinga sorting method that Waste Management pioneered in 2001. With single-stream recycling, customers simply chuck all of their recyclables into one bin, as opposed to sorting the glass, paper, and metal separately. Since the bins are so large and the process so thoughtless, the method has increased the recycling rate by an average of 30%. Single-stream is not the system that leads to the highest quality of recyclables, Container Recycling Institute President Susan Collins says. There are consequences if you mix them together: you cant unscramble an egg.

Even recyclable materials can be ruined by the process and become useless residuals, such as plastics contaminated by broken glass. According to one study, no-sort recycling yielded four times more residuals than dual-sort. But because of its convenience and up-front cost-savings, it has become Americas sorting method of choice. Steiner conceded that it was probably fair to say Waste Management created some of its own problems by leading the single-stream recycling trend. The company then backtracked: I wouldnt say that we shot ourselves in the foot, because it created more recycling, he said. But we need to think about how to create more recycling at a higher profitability.

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Waste Management and recycling experts agree that all of these factorsthe commodity price downturn, the evolving ton, and rising contaminationhas led to what Kneiss refers to as a perfect storm. But when you ask what to do about it, that consensus quickly devolves into finger-pointingat recycling companies like Waste Management for failing to innovate, at the American public for their lazy recycling habits, at producers for creating plastic packaging that is increasingly difficult to recycle, and even at the federal government for not passing strong legislation that encourages better practices.

Sounding the alarms

Recycling is not freethats something everyone can agree onand Waste Management has been pursuing solutions city-by-city to make recycling sustainable and protect itself from losses. In some cities, like San Antonio, Texas, Waste Management simply closed its plants; in other cities, the company is auditing waste streams and strictly enforcing years-old contract agreements with cities that commit to not going above a certain percentage of contamination. The company has also renegotiated contracts to allow Waste Management to use recycling revenues to cover the cost of processing before splitting the remaining earnings with cities. Meanwhile, Steiner is focusing on educating people to recycle properlya crusade that will not only revive stalling recycling rates in the country, but shore up the companys profits.

Not all recyclers are thanking Steiner for saying that the business is in crisis, in part because the executives warnings have sometimes turned apocalyptic. Steiner has threatened in the pages of The Wall Street Journal and elsewhere that, if no solutions are found, the end of recycling could be nigh.

Yes, there are some issues with the recycling system, but they are not issues that cannot be managed and improved, the Associated Recyclers of Wisconsin wrote in a press release. Lets not fall into the trap of using words like crisis to describe the current state of cyclical market conditions.

Minneapolis-based recycling non-profit Eureka Recycling issued a blistering note criticizing Waste Management for trying to play victim to single stream recycling after spearheading the methods adoption. Many of the environmentalists who responded angrily to Steiner beseech readers to, as the Minneapolis non-profit wrote, think about profits a little more broadly to include the job creation and environmental benefits that recycling brings.

But Steiner says he doesnt foresee a day in which Waste Management is out of the recycling business altogether. Rather, he says he has been vocal on the recycling downturn because he wants to see systemwide changes in the industry that can revive stalling recycling rates and protect recyclers from the whims of the commodity markets. We need to figure out as a country, do we want a global solution to this, or do we do one-off solutions?

Steiner rattled off ideas like national legislation requiring a certain amount of recycled content to be used in packaging of new products, or removing glass from the recycling stream because it often breaks during collection and mucks up the rest of the load. Theres also extended producer responsibility, already popular in Europe, which shifts some of the costs of recycling into the prices of products themselves. None of these fixes can come from Big Waste alone: they require a surge in public concern to lift the unsexy issue of garbage onto politicians agendas.

It takes a crisis to get action sometimes in politics, Steiner says. And while he cant provide news teams with a feast of wandering trash barges to broadcast across the nations screens, the CEO has made himself the industrys leading voice by ringing the alarm bells. Moore says that he gives the man credit for taking a macro educational roleone that might convince everyone involved that the business of recycling is due for a paradigm shift.
Post Sun Dec 17, 2017 9:38 am 
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El Supremo

[PDF]RECYCLING FAQs - State of Michigan
The residential recycling rate for Michigan is estimated around 15 percent. That means we trail the other Great Lakes States and most of the nation. However, one of the first priorities of the statewide recycling initiative will be to get stronger data about recycling in Michigan counties, cities and towns.

[PDF]Recycling 101: The Basics - State of Michigan
Resins. What does the number symbol on plastic really mean? Resin Identification Code labeling system (not a universal recycling code). Fast Facts: #1 and #2 are the most widely accepted plastics. #3-6 are more difficult, but are still commonly accepted. #7 most challenging, some programs do not accept. 17 ...
Post Mon Dec 18, 2017 3:18 pm 
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El Supremo

Privatization of Waste Collection Services Saves Money | Advanced Disposal
Learn why cities privatize their trash collection, disposal, and recycling management to save money and reduce liability.
Post Tue Dec 19, 2017 9:29 pm 
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El Supremo

Gasper Fiore pleads guilty in towing scandal
Robert Snell, The Detroit News Published 9:53 a.m. ET Dec. 20, 2017 | Updated 1:46 p.m. ET Dec. 20, 2017

Towing magnate Gasper Fiore made a surprise guilty plea Wednesday, landing prosecutors arguably the highest-profile person charged in the wide-ranging Macomb County public corruption scandal.

The Grosse Pointe Shores business mogul, 57, former owner of Boulevard and Trumbull Towing, the citys largest tow firm, has long been a dominant figure in the Metro Detroit towing industry. His firm has municipal contracts in several communities, and federal prosecutors say Fiore built his empire by bribing at least one elected official.

That former politician is Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds, authorities said. Fiore and Reynolds are charged with multiple counts of bribery-related offenses in connection with a towing contract.

Fiore admitted at the plea hearing that he conspired to pay bribes to Reynolds in order to obtain a municipal towing contract with the township. Fiore admitted to giving Reynolds cash bribes of $4,000 and $3,000 in March and May of 2016 in order to buy Reynolds vote to select Fiores company to receive the Clinton Township towing contract.

The bribery conspiracy charge to which Fiore pled guilty carries a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. A sentencing date has been set for May 1.

Prosecutors will recommend Fiore spend up to 21 months in federal prison, according to the plea deal.

The plea comes seven months after Fiore was indicted in a scandal focused on at least three fronts: Macomb County politicians pocketing bribes in exchange for approving municipal contracts with Sterling Heights trash hauler Rizzo Environmental Services, Fiores towing empire and the Macomb County Public Works office.

The investigation has led to charges against 18 people and 12 convictions so far.

Macomb corruption scandal figure arraigned

Acting United States Attorney Lemisch said, Todays guilty plea is a significant blow to corruption in southeast Michigan," Acting United States Attorney Daniel L. Lemisch said in a statement. "Bribery subverts representative government, and this conviction demonstrates that such conduct, by either public officials or bribe payers, will not be tolerated.

Rizzo, his father Charles Rizzo, Fiore and others plotted to steal hundreds of thousands of dollars from Rizzo Environmental Services using a fake legal settlement agreement, fraudulent consulting deals, kickbacks, shell companies and stealing money to help pay for Chuck Rizzos mansion in Bloomfield Township, the government alleges.

Fiore also was a minor figure in the corruption case against Kilpatrick in 2012.

That year, Kilpatrick and contractor Bobby Ferguson were charged in federal court and accused of allegedly extorting more than $90,000 from Fiore.

Federal prosecutors later dropped the Fiore allegation to avoid a potential conflict of interest involving Kilpatrick's lawyer.
Post Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:02 pm 
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El Supremo

Records: FBIs wiretaps widespread in corruption probe
Robert Snell, The Detroit News Published 10:46 p.m. ET Dec. 28, 2017 | Updated 8:51 a.m. ET Dec. 29, 2017

Detroit FBI agents spent years listening to the phone calls of more than a dozen people, including some politicians and businessmen, as part of a widening investigation of public corruption in Metro Detroit, according to sealed federal court records.

The latest in a series of sealed records obtained by The Detroit News shows FBI agents tapped at least a dozen phones during a probe that led investigators to start orbiting the lucrative world of municipal sewer projects and former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco.

The records offer insight into potential new targets and illustrate how the FBI built a case thats led to charges against 18 people so far and more than a dozen convictions.

A chronology of events outlined in sealed wiretap records shows that by late summer 2014, investigators had started tapping three phones so they could listen to conversations involving Marrocco, a manager employed by a Macomb Public Works contractor and a county employee who worked in the public works office. Marrocco has not been charged with a crime.

If youre someones lawyer, you have to be deeply concerned when you see how long the government has been wiretapping people, said Peter Henning, a Wayne State University law professor and former federal prosecutor. Wiretaps are such powerful evidence because they are unguarded statements by potential defendants and, oh god, do the f-bombs fly.

An FBI spokesman could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The FBI investigation is detailed in an application to continue tapping the cellphone of Detroit towing titan Gasper Fiore. The 2016 affidavit by FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman was temporarily unsealed in federal court and obtained by The News before a judge resealed the document.

The filing contains a list of target subjects that includes several public officials. Among them: Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans, two former state representatives and Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland.

A court filing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta from 2016 said there was probable cause that the target subjects are engaged in the payment and receipt of bribes and corrupt payments.

The list of target subjects included Fiores daughter, Jennifer. After The News published the list of names, the U.S. Attorneys Office notified her lawyer, Christopher Andreoff, that Jennifer Fiore, sister Jessica Lucas, her husband Michael Lucas and Jennifer Fiores mother Joan Fiore, were not targets of any federal investigation.

The records, for the first time, publicly mention Marrocco in a criminal investigation that has led to charges against his former right-hand man, Dino Bucci.

By summer 2016, the FBI had tapped at least 10 phones, and separate court records indicate agents also tapped the phone of Marroccos former top aide, Bucci. Bucci was indicted in November and accused of receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars while extorting engineering contractors who wanted public contracts, forcing county employees to drive his child to school and plow snow at his home.

The indictment and court records portray Bucci as a bully who used a disposable burner cellphone commonly used by drug dealers to evade law enforcement surveillance. FBI agents learned about the burner phone and tapped it, according to court records.

The wiretaps started as early as August 2014. Thats when FBI agents obtained a court order to tap the phone of Paul Modi, a Macomb County engineering contractor.

What led agents to Modi, 48, is unclear but investigators had analyzed incoming and outgoing messages and focused on several contacts to determine if any were involved in bribery or corruption, according to the government.

The short list of people in contact with Modi that drew FBI attention, according to the court filing, included Bucci and Marrocco, a once-powerful political figure who helped award work worth millions of dollars to firms that bid or received contracts from the public works office.

One such firm is Motor City Electric, a Detroit company that installed and operated electronic controls for Macomb Countys sanitary sewers. In the last two years, the firm has been paid approximately $1.3 million including a $750,000 no-bid contract to upgrade the system last year, according to public works spokesman Dan Heaton.

The contract was never sent out for bid, Heaton said Thursday. That was awarded, ultimately, by Marrocco.

Marrocco, who left office in January, could not be reached for comment.

Motor City is not named by the FBI agent in the sealed filing, but one of the companys managers is Robert Maechtle, 47, of Sterling Heights.

Maechtle was the liaison between the company and Marroccos office, according to the county spokesman. Maechtles name appears in federal court records among a list of people in communication with Modis phone that FBI agents intended to intercept.

Motor City Electric respects the federal investigation and is thankful that the hard work is starting to clean up corruption in Macomb County, company lawyer Todd Flood told The News. We will continue to support Mr. Maechtle and work with the government if called upon. Motor City Electric will continue to set the gold standard for both work quality and ethics in the industry.

Agents also wanted to intercept any communication between Modi and Jason Matteo, according to court records. Thats the same name of the former chief engineer in Marroccos office.

Matteo, 41, of Shelby Township, was chief engineer for three years until resigning in April 2016.

Weeks later, Matteo was offered a consulting contract with Marroccos office, but the deal was never signed, Heaton said. The reason: County rules bar employees from being paid as consultants for 12 months after they leave.

Matteo did not respond to a message seeking comment Thursday.

The Modi wiretap lasted until September 2014. Modi was charged almost three years later with one count of conspiracy to bribe a Washington Township public official, struck a plea deal and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

In October 2014, one month after Modis wiretap ended, FBI agents started listening to another phone.

The phone belonged to engineering firm owner Fazal Khan, 56, of Troy, according to court records.

Investigators wanted to listen to conversations between Khan, the owner of Sterling Heights-based Fazal Khan & Associates, and three people: Bucci, Maechtle and Marrocco, court records show.

The Khan wiretap lasted until November 2014.

That month, FBI agents tapped the cellphone of Maechtle, the Motor City Electric manager. Investigators wanted to listen to conversations between Maechtle and several people, including Bucci, Marrocco, Modi and Matteo.

The list also included James Pistilli, 68, of Holly. Pistilli worked for the engineering firm Giffels Webster, a company that has numerous municipal contracts in Metro Detroit.

Pistilli was charged in federal court in September and accused of funneling bribes to a Washington Township official. He later struck a plea deal and is awaiting sentencing.

Pistilli previously worked for Marrocco as Macomb Countys chief engineer. His successor: Matteo, according to the county spokesman.

The Maechtle wiretap ended in January 2015.

Mr. Maechtles phone was the subject of a federal wiretap for a very short time, his defense lawyer, John Shea, said Thursday. It is our understanding that nothing of value was obtained. Mr. Maechtle, otherwise, has been fully cooperative with the government.

After Maechtles wiretap ended, investigators obtained another court order to listen to the cellphone of Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds. The wiretap lasted for four months until October 2015, one year before Reynolds was charged and accused of pocketing bribes.

Investigators wanted to listen to phone calls between Reynolds and several people, including Bucci and Macomb County trash hauler Chuck Rizzo, 47, of Bloomfield Hills, according to court records.

Rizzo, whose phone also was tapped, struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors last month, admitting he bribed Reynolds while building a trash-hauling empire.

The wiretaps led to one apparent dead end.

In December 2015, the FBI tapped the cellphone of Florida trash businessman Curtis Agius, a Rizzo friend and former colleague.

The wiretap lasted for a few weeks before being discontinued in February 2016. That year, Agius recalls, FBI agents arrived at his house for an unannounced visit to talk about Rizzo.

Guilt by association, I guess, Agius, 47, said Thursday, laughing. The FBI came to my house, I came down in my T-shirt and underwear and sat at the table and had coffee and we talked. After about five or six questions, they left.

I got nothing to hide, come on in. If you live a clean life, you dont have to worry about anything like this.

Post Fri Dec 29, 2017 9:09 am 
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El Supremo

New names emerge in federal corruption probe
Robert Snell,George Hunter and Christine Ferretti, The Detroit News Published 8:40 p.m. ET Dec. 26, 2017 | Updated 6:31 p.m. ET Dec. 27, 2017

Detroit Several previously undisclosed Metro Detroit public officials and politicians drew scrutiny from federal agents during a public corruption investigation that started in Macomb County and spread to Wayne County and Detroit, according to federal court records obtained by The Detroit News.

The records, for the first time, publicly mention former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco in a criminal investigation that has led to charges against his former right-hand man, Dino Bucci.

Federal wiretap documents filed in federal court contain a list of target subjects that includes several public officials. Among them: Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans, two former state representatives and Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland.

FBI agents were investigating conspiracy to distribute marijuana, bribery, extortion and other crimes in connection with Detroit towing mogul Gasper Fiore or others, according to court records obtained by The News. The records included an application to continue wiretapping Fiores cellphone.

Of the public officials named in the filing, only former Detroit deputy police chief Celia Washington has been charged with a crime in connection with the investigation. Napoleon and others reached Tuesday by The News said they were unaware they had been named in the filing.

The names were included in a federal court filing that reflects the broader scope of a years-long investigation that has led to charges against 18 people so far. The filing, which was temporarily unsealed in federal court, gives a rare snapshot of an early stage of a high-profile investigation involving Fiore, a multimillionaire businessman who built a towing empire in Metro Detroit by securing lucrative contracts with municipalities and the federal government.

One court filing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Bullotta from 2016 said there was probable cause that the target subjects are engaged in the payment and receipt of bribes and corrupt payments.

Certain sensitive investigative documents were inadvertently filed on the public docket by a non-governmental attorney, acting U.S. Attorney Daniel Lemisch told The News in a statement Tuesday. Theres a reason why such documents are filed under seal. They may contain allegations against individuals, including public officials, that never rise to the level of criminality. Its unfair to impugn the character of anyone, especially a public official, with an investigative document that the public official never gets to contest in open court. Thats the reason why these documents should be, and now are, back under seal.

The ongoing corruption investigation has led to 13 convictions so far. The court filings were temporarily unsealed days after Fiore struck a plea deal last week with prosecutors, admitting he bribed former Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds.

The government filing indicates FBI agents started wiretapping people in 2014. By summer 2016, agents were tapping Fiores phone.

Using phone records, agents analyzed which public officials and other people were in communication with Fiores phone. After realizing Fiore was in contact with several public officials, FBI agents started scrutinizing whether any were involved in wrongdoing.

Those named listed as target subjects in the filing included:

■Leland, a Detroit city councilman who was re-elected in November to his second, four-year term on Detroits City Council. Leland, 35, first took office in January 2014 and formerly served six years in the state House.

■Napoleon, a former Detroit police chief who has been Wayne County sheriff since 2009. He ran for Detroit mayor in 2013.

■Evans, a Wayne County judge who presided over high-profile trials, including the murder case against Grosse Pointe Park businessman Robert Bashara.

■Brian Banks, a Harper Woods Democrat who resigned from the state House in early February and pleaded guilty to one misdemeanor count of making false statements of financial condition to try to obtain a $7,500 personal loan. He was sentenced to one day in jail.

■Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, a Detroit Democrat. In 2015, The Detroit News reported that the former Detroit City councilwoman was under investigation in connection with a Detroit pension scandal that led to the conviction of her former chief of staff, George Stanton. She left the state House last year amid term limits.

■Assad Turfe, who is chief assistant to Wayne County Executive Warren Evans.

■Romel Casab, former owner of the Packard Plant, who was convicted last year in a separate medical marijuana investigation.

■Jennifer Marie Fiore, daughter of Gasper Fiore and Lelands former girlfriend. She is an attorney who is an executive with several Fiore-owned companies. In a lawsuit filed in August, Detroit officials alleged Jennifer Fiore, along with her mother, Joan Fiore, Gaspers ex-wife, her sister Jessica Lucas, Boulevard & Trumbull Towing and other Fiore-related companies, committed fraud, tax evasion and other crimes against the City of Detroit and its residents. The city later dropped the lawsuit.

■Michael Irvin Lucas, who worked at B&G Towing in Detroit. Hes married to Jessica Lucas, a daughter of Gasper Fiore.

■Paul Ott, a former Detroit police attorney who owns Genes Towing in Detroit.

■Shane Anders, owner of Area Towing and Recovery in Taylor.

■Morris Joseph, a Detroit police officer. He was sued in May, with Gasper Fiore as a co-defendant, and accused of improperly towing an owners cars, although a federal judge found the plaintiffs civil rights hadnt been violated.

■Louay Hussein, whose brother Hussein Hussein owns MetroTech Collision in Detroit. Detroit officials said in a Sept. 11 federal court filing which was later withdrawn that Louay Hussein was supposed to provide Detroit police with information about an alleged stolen vehicle ring involving cops, a towing company and a collision firm. Hussein Hussein was criminally charged for his involvement in the theft of a stolen motor vehicle, said the complaint. Louay Hussein offered to provide Detroit police information on similar crimes involving other individuals in exchange for leniency with respect to his brother, said the filing. The city agreed to the deal and the charges against Hussein Hussein were either dropped or reduced, according to the court filing. In 2016, Louay Hussein purchased an interest in Nationwide Towing, the city said, adding the company since 2010 has been associated with Gasper Fiore, whom the city said engaged in fraudulent and criminal conduct.

Bullotta, the federal prosecutor, listed each name in a request to continue tapping Fiores phone.

Last year, agents sought permission from a federal judge to keep tapping Fiores phone in search of evidence of various crimes, including extortion, honest services mail and wire fraud, and conspiracy to distribute marijuana, according to the filing.

The wiretap application that names the public officials is among evidence the government shared with lawyers representing people charged so far, including Washington, the former Detroit police official who was indicted on federal conspiracy and bribery charges in October.

According to the indictment, Washington, 57, of Detroit, pocketed bribes in exchange for helping Gasper Fiore grab a bigger piece of a Detroit towing industry that totaled more than $2 million a year.

Her lawyer, Arnold Reed, filed a copy of the wiretap application Friday among several motions to dismiss charges against Washington.

The wiretap application was filed despite a protective order that is supposed to shield sensitive documents from the public in the early stages of the prosecution. By Tuesday afternoon, the filings were resealed.

In one document, FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman, who helped prosecute former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick, describes the ongoing investigation.

Evidence has been gathered showing that crimes involving corruption have been committed by some of the target subjects, including Tinsley-Talabi, Napoleon and Casab, the agent wrote. However, those investigations have been pending for months or years and the evidence so far has not been sufficient to bring federal charges.

Federal agents were tapping multiple phones during the investigation. Marroccos name emerged in 2014 while agents tapped the phones of at least three people, including engineering contractor Paulin Modi of Troy, according to court records.

Modi has struck a plea deal after being accused of bribing a Washington Township public official.

The court filing names Marrocco as one person communicating with Modi and two other phones.

Marrocco has not been charged with a crime.

Earlier this year, Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller said a federal grand jury was investigating her office during Marroccos tenure and had subpoenaed testimony from about a dozen public employees.

FBI agents were asking questions about Marrocco, who lost to Miller in the November 2016 election; Bucci, his former deputy; and millions of dollars in payments to an unnamed county contractor, Miller said.

Public officials named in the court filings had a mix of reactions.

In a statement posted on Evans' Facebook page, her attorney Todd Russell Perkins defended her integrity.

"It is an unfortunate event that Judge Evans' image could be besmirched as a result of knowing an individual who is being investigated," Perkins wrote. "In the sentiment of our Acting US Attorney, Daniel Lemisch, it is wrong to draw the implication of any wrongdoing against those who are mentioned during the course of an investigation. To do so denies an individual due process and the simple freedom to lawfully associate with one another.

He continued: "It is a sad day when a public servant must field questions about her integrity as there are conclusions drawn against her. Please don't do that. Trust the system, and trust that Judge Evans is a servant for the people by the people and that her service to the people is without reproach."

Reached Tuesday, Napoleon said he was unaware of any of the activities described in the filing. Napoleon said there has never been a hint of impropriety during his law-enforcement career, including stints as Detroit police chief and county sheriff.

Fiore was a county vendor and the two occasionally would talk about questions or issues related to the towing contract, Napoleon said in a statement Tuesday.

As sheriff, I am required to answer those questions and attempt to resolve those issues when they are brought to my attention, Napoleon said. I have never attempted to influence the awarding or implementation of a towing contract. Any suggestion to the contrary is so ridiculous as to deserve no further comment.

Napoleon said after Fiore was indicted in May, he was removed from the countys towing rotation.

Leland was unaware that his name was included in the list until being contacted by The News.

This is the first that Councilman Leland has heard about this and, as I understand it, he has not been contacted by anyone, said Lelands spokesman, Daniel Cherrin.

According to the filing, Beeckman wrote that Fiore claimed Detroit Police Chief James Craig had briefed Gabe Leland about the towing case, and Leland has briefed the Fiore family about it.

In an interview Tuesday, Craig insisted he never told Leland anything about the investigation. He said he contacted the FBI after a meeting last year with the Detroit city councilman.

He said he wanted to meet with me for the purpose of discussing something unrelated to towing, but once he gets into the meeting with me, he starts asking about the towing investigation, Craig told The News. Its not my investigation, so I didnt have anything to give him. I never felt comfortable with him, so I made sure to have a witness in the room with me during this meeting.

I was not comfortable with Lelands questions, and I immediately contacted the FBI as soon as he left the room and told them he was asking me questions about the towing investigation.

Turfe said Tuesday he was unaware and had not been contacted by authorities.

I have not been contacted and wouldnt expect to be, he said in a statement provided to The News.

Banks said Tuesday said he had no knowledge of the investigation and directed The News to his attorney, Ben Gonek, who could not be reached for comment.

Post Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:32 pm 
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El Supremo

Ex-police official made mistake, strikes plea deal
Robert Snell, The Detroit News Published 2:08 p.m. ET Dec. 29, 2017 | Updated 8:33 p.m. ET Dec. 29, 2017

Detroit A former Detroit deputy police chief accused of pocketing a $3,000 bribe from Detroit towing titan Gasper Fiore, lying to the FBI and failing a polygraph exam is expected to plead guilty next week, according to federal court records.

A surprise plea hearing for Celia Washington was announced Friday, one week after her lawyer filed secret FBI wiretap documents that indicate several previously undisclosed Metro Detroit public officials and politicians have drawn scrutiny from federal agents during a public corruption investigation that led to Washingtons indictment.

The FBI wiretap documents contain a list of target subjects that includes several public officials. Among them: Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans, two former state representatives and Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland. None of those officials have been charged in the federal probe.

The plea hearing is Tuesday in front of U.S. District Judge David Lawson in Detroit. Washington will plead to bribery conspiracy and could face up to two years in federal prison, said her defense lawyer, Arnold Reed.

A plea would make Washington the 14th person convicted in a wide-ranging corruption scandal that started in Macomb County and has since spread to Detroit. So far, 18 people have been charged with crimes related to the corruption investigation.

She knows she made a mistake, and Ms. Washington wants to put this behind her, Reed said.

Washington was accused of accepting bribes from Fiore to help with permits and circumvent rules that prohibit a towing company owner from having more than one company in each police district or towing rotation, the indictment says.

Washington insists she never influenced the towing rotation or tried to boost Fiores towing empire, Reed said.

She told him, flat out, she wasnt changing the towing rotation. She thought this guy was her friend, and it turns out, he wasnt, Reed said. She knew why he was giving her the money. She didnt have the power to influence the rotation. But when youre a public official and you accept money from somebody and you know why theyre giving it to you, even if you didnt do anything, youre still guilty under the federal statute.

Washington tried to return the money to Fiore, her lawyer said.

He wouldnt take it, Reed said.

Plea negotiations were underway for weeks and were not influenced by the disclosure of FBI wiretap documents that were supposed to remain sealed in federal court, Reed said.

Not at all, man, Reed said. That didnt influence anything.

Investigators amassed substantial evidence against Washington, including secret video recordings, a significant number of wiretaps, text messages and other evidence.

Washington, 57, of Detroit was indicted in October on federal conspiracy and bribery charges that carry penalties of up to 10 years in federal prison. She is free on bond.

According to the indictment, Washington pocketed bribes in exchange for helping Fiore grab a bigger piece of a towing industry that totaled more than $2 million a year.

She was indicted despite being given a chance to cooperate with investigators.

Washington met with FBI agents in June and signed a proffer agreement a deal in which prosecutors would not use her words against her as long as she truthfully discussed her interactions with Fiore, a top target in the corruption investigation whose phone was being tapped by federal agents.

Instead, the government claims Washington sabotaged the deal by failing a polygraph test, according to the records.

Washington resigned from the police department in June after police officials learned she was being investigated in an ongoing probe of Fiore, who for years owned several companies that towed vehicles for the city, sources told The Detroit News at the time.

Washington also was the attorney for the Detroit Board of Police Commissioners, which made decisions about the citys tow operations.

The indictment alleges a conspiracy involving Washington that ran from February 2016 until she resigned.

Fiore, 57, of Grosse Pointe Shores struck a plea deal with prosecutors last week. He pleaded guilty to a bribery conspiracy charge that carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000. A sentencing date has been set for May 1.

In February 2016, Washington met the towing owner and requested money; that same month, she pocketed at least $3,000 from Fiore, according to the indictment.

The money was not a bribe, Reed said.

Washington told the FBI she had asked Fiore for an $800 loan, her attorney wrote in a court filing.

Fiore gave her an envelope, and when (Washington) got home, she realized that it contained $3,000, Reed wrote.

Washington told FBI agents that more than a year later, she had $2,000 left in the envelope, according to her lawyer.

When she got home (after the interview), she found out that she actually had $1,600, so she added $400 of her money to make up the difference, which she turned over to the FBI before taking a polygraph examination, Reed wrote.

Then, Washington changed her story, her lawyer said.

(Washington) later admitted that she actually added $1,000 of her own money to bring the total to $2,000, Reed wrote.

During the polygraph, Washington denied receiving the money as a reward for helping Fiore with towing-related matters, according to the filing.

The FBI immediately informed her that she failed the exam and that they believed she lied about her dealings with Fiore, her lawyer wrote. (Washington) has maintained all along that she did not accept anything of value as a reward for helping with any towing matters, and she did not make Fiore think she could do anything for him.
Post Sat Dec 30, 2017 1:38 pm 
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El Supremo

Chuck Rizzo: I helped FBI long before I got indicted and can prove it
Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press Published 2:00 p.m. ET Dec. 27, 2017 | Updated 4:33 p.m. ET Dec. 27, 2017

Chuck Rizzo faces up to 10 years in prison for corruption. But he says he helped the FBI for years, and should get consideration for it.

Hoping to get a shorter prison sentence, Chuck Rizzo Jr. is subpoenaing his own phone records, saying they can help prove that he aided the FBI years before he was indicted on corruption charges.

Rizzo, whose family once ruled the trash hauling business in metro Detroit wants to show that he was a longtime confidential source for the FBI, not just someone who wore a wire after getting caught paying bribes for political favors which he pleaded guilty to last month. according to a new court filing,

Rizzo claims that phone records will show he "initially volunteered information to the FBI about potential local public corruption" more than six years ago. He is seeking his phone records from January of 2011 through December 2015, claiming AT&T does not issue records that far back without a subpoena.

Rizzo, 47, of Bloomfield Hills, believes the phone records can help show his "extraordinary record of cooperation" with the federal government and corroborate when he actually started cooperating with the FBI as a confidential source.

In his court document filed Wednesday, Rizzo states that the government cannot confirm that his contact with the FBI started in 2011 or any other facts concerning his early cooperation because "those events are not reflected in the FBI's historical records." Therefore, Rizzo claims, he needs the phone records to prove his early and ongoing cooperation with the FBI, which will be "significant factors" when he is sentenced in March.

Because of Rizzo's cooperation, prosecutors have recommended he be sentenced to 75 months, or 6 years 3 months. Rizzo, however, could face up to 10 years, as the law allows.

Last fall, Rizzo surfaced as the government's star witness in an ongoing public corruption probe that has so far ensnared 17 individuals, including Rizzo's father and Grosse Pointe Shores towing magnate Gasper Fiore. Of the 17 charged, 14 have pleaded guilty in the case, including Fiore and the Rizzos, whose family garbage empire collapsed amid the probe last fall.

Rizzo Jr. also pleaded guilty to wire fraud, admitting he embezzled thousands of dollars from his garbage company and used some of the money to pay bribes and build his Bloomfield Township mansion.

According to his latest court filing, the U.S. Attorneys office does not object to Rizzo's subpoena for his own phone records.

Tresa Baldas can be reached at tbaldas@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @Tbaldas
Post Tue Jan 02, 2018 7:41 am 
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El Supremo

Gasper Fiore towing scandal prompts internal investigation at Michigan State Police
Paul Egan and Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press Published 5:00 p.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018 | Updated 5:29 p.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018

LANSING The Michigan State Police is conducting an internal investigation into its metro Detroit towing contracts, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

The internal affairs investigation at the MSP is linked to the widening scandal involving metro Detroit towing magnate Gasper Fiore and allegedly corrupt towing contracts with the Detroit Police and other public agencies.

MSP spokeswoman Lori Dougovito confirmed the existence of an internal affairs investigation after a briefly unsealed federal court filing revealed possible inappropriate relationships between Fiore and at least one member of the MSP.

"There is an open internal investigation," Dougovito told the Free Press. It was opened in October and is ongoing, and "we cannot provide additional information," she said.

Fiore, 57, of Grosse Pointe Shores awaits a May sentencing on a bribery conspiracy charge after recently pleading guilty to bribing a Macomb County official in a wider corruption case as part of a deal with federal prosecutors. He faces up to five years in prison.

On Tuesday, former Detroit Deputy Police Chief Celia Washington pleaded guilty to bribery, admitting that in 2015 she took an envelope of cash from Fiore, who was looking for help securing towing contracts.

Affidavits prosecutors submitted in support of a wiretap on Fiore's phone which were briefly unsealed through a filing error and obtained by the Free Press show that Fiore may have also been improperly seeking an edge in towing contracts awarded by the MSP.

"On May 9. 2016, Fiore talked to Shane Anders," an FBI agent said in an affidavit that prosecutors wanted to keep sealed while the investigation is under way.

Anders, owner of Area Towing, "stated that MSP Trooper Jay Morningstar had recommended that Anders and Fiore attend an informal gathering of troopers at Mr. B's," a pub in downtown Royal Oak, the affidavit said.

"Anders stated that MSP Capt.(Greg) Zarotney had previously said that the MSP Post could hire whatever tower they wanted without doing a bid," the FBI affidavit said.

"Anders is being coached by Morningstar on how to get MSP officials to simply hire Anders and Fiore, rather than to bid out the contract," the document said.

Anders could not be reached for comment Tuesday. Morningstar said he was unable to comment and directed questions to MSP public relations officials.

Dougovito said the MSP's towing list was last developed in 2012 and is due for reconsideration in 2018.

The 2012 list, obtained by the Free Press in 2015, assigned large areas to companies associated with Fiore and assigned parts of I-94, M-39, and I-75 to Area Towing. Other companies also had assigned towing areas.

Morningstar, who is assigned to the MSP Metro North Post, has no role in the development of a towing list, either in 2012, or this year, Dougovito said.

Morningstar made headlines in 2005, when he was charged with second-degree murder but later acquitted by a Wayne County jury in the shooting death of a 40-year-old, unarmed homeless man in Greektown.

Morningstar later sued the Wayne County prosecutor and Detroit police officers, alleging malicious prosecution and defamation. He later won a $500,000 jury award against one Detroit officer.

Also, the commander of the MSPs 2nd District, which oversees the Metro North and Metro South posts in Metro Detroit, was recently reassigned to Lansing in a lateral move, Dougovito confirmed.

The transfer of Capt. Monica Yesh was not related to the towing controversy, Dougovito said. Yesh was put in charge of the MSP's recruiting section in Lansing in mid-December and Capt. Tom Deasy became the new 2nd District commander effective Monday, Dougovito said.

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or pegan@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @paulegan4.
Post Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:02 am 
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El Supremo

Wiretaps show towing titans influence with officials
George Hunter,Christine Ferretti and Robert Snell, The Detroit News Published 10:53 p.m. ET Jan. 1, 2018 | Updated 7:27 a.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018

Detroit Telephone conversations intercepted as part of a federal corruption investigation offer insight into the influence wielded by Detroit towing magnate Gasper Fiore over local officials and his attempts to rig the system in his favor, according to unsealed court records.

FBI Special Agent Robert Beeckman last year chronicled the conversations as part of a request to a federal judge to continue tapping the phone of Fiore, who pleaded guilty Dec. 20 in federal court to conspiracy to commit bribery.

Beeckman noted the communication demonstrates the considerable influence Fiore has over towing in the City of Detroit.

The federal records show Fiore allegedly was involved in questionable activity involving individuals on the Detroit Police Department, Detroit City Council, Highland Park Police Department and the Michigan State Police.

The agent also wrote when he filed the June 2, 2016, request: The last 30 days of interceptions of wire and electronic communications have yielded evidence indicating that Fiore is committing several of the crimes he was suspected of committing, including bribing public officials.

This past 30 days also captured items of value Fiore is providing to police officers, Beeckman wrote. Agents (were watching) the OReilly Auto Parts store regarding the repairs Fiore was doing on a state troopers personal vehicle.

State Police Lt. Michael Shaw said Friday he didnt know anything about the alleged April 19, 2016, incident.

According to the federal case, Fiore, a 57-year-old Grosse Pointe Shores multimillionaire who built an empire by securing lucrative towing and other contracts with local, state and federal governments, allegedly gave a $3,000 bribe to former Detroit Police attorney and civilian deputy chief Celia Washington, who was indicted in October on federal conspiracy and bribery charges.

According to federal court records, she is expected to plead guilty to bribery conspiracy Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Washington, 57, of Detroit, allegedly pocketed bribes in exchange for helping Fiore nab a bigger piece of Detroits towing rotations.

Washingtons attorney, Arnold Reed, on Dec. 22 filed a motion to dismiss the charges against his client. Reed attached to the motion sealed documents that lay out the conversations federal investigators picked up by tapping Fiores phone. The documents were later resealed after The News obtained them.

List of target subjects

The documents include a list of the FBIs target subjects connected with the corruption investigation that includes Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans, Detroit City Councilman Gabe Leland and former state Reps. Alberta Tinsley-Talabi, D-Detroit, and Brian Banks, D-Harper Woods.

Evidence has been gathered showing that crimes involving corruption have been committed by some of the target subjects, including Tinsley-Talabi (and) Napoleon, Beeckman wrote. However, those investigations have been pending for months or years and the evidence so far has not been sufficient to bring federal charges.

Napoleon and Evans issued written statements denying any wrongdoing. They have not been charged with crimes.

Among the wiretapped calls from 2016 was an exchange between Fiore and a man identified as Nicholas Primus about secretly funneling money to Councilwoman Janee Ayers to pay for advertising billboards. Federal agents did not list Ayers as a target of the investigation, and she has not been charged with a crime.

Attempts to reach Primus were unsuccessful.

In a May 10, 2016, phone call, Primus alerted Fiore of an alleged upcoming meeting he had planned with Ayers. The two men discussed ways to get money to her but disguise it, Beeckman wrote.

Primus told Fiore he was providing billboards for Ayers, who at the time was gearing up for a special election to finish out a term on council in a vacated seat, the agent wrote. Primus offered Fiore the opportunity to pay for the billboards and said he would let Ayers know that he was doing so.

Primus also spoke with Fiore about a planned lunch meeting with Ayers and invited Fiore to attend, according to the court filing. Fiore acknowledged that hed attended a party for Ayers a week earlier, and told Primus to let him know where the meeting would take place, and that they should keep it close and quick.

I gave her a good deal, Primus told Fiore, according to a transcript of the call. I was gonna give her some money too. Not in my name, but, you know, but ... anyways, I gave her a good deal on some billboards, and she asked me for some extra time. And I said, I dont know, let me work with you. I dont know if you want to tell her and you pay for it cause uh, I only charged her a thousand dollars a billboard.

Fiore replied: Alright. ... I Ill do something.

Ayers told The News she doesnt know Primus.

I have never had a private meeting with him. Im not sure Ive ever seen him publicly, said Ayers, who added he has never donated to my campaign.

Campaign finance records show no payments from Primus or Fiore to Ayers.

Ayers, 36, was appointed to City Council in 2015 to replace Saunteel Jenkins, who left for a nonprofit job, and defeated four other candidates in the August 2016 special election to complete Jenkins term. Ayers won election to a full four-year term two months ago.

Providing help

A May 1, 2016, telephone conversation between Fiore and one of his employees was recorded, in which the employee boasted about his close relationship with one of the police officials, saying the prior command officer instructed the current lower ranking officer to take care of (the employee), Beeckman wrote.

There are several conversations between Fiore, Washington and others that, Beeckman wrote, showed Washington was trying to tip the scales to help Fiore.

Fiore told his daughter, Jennifer Fiore, on May 6, 2016, that Washington is going to get them what they want for towing rotations, Beeckman wrote.

According to the court records, during that conversation, Fiore told his daughter: Im sitting here with Celia Washington ... and shes asking for some information on this tow stuff so she can help us.

Gasper Fiore told his daughter that Washington was using her personal email account, prompting Beeckman to write: I believe that Washington is using her personal email to hide this activity from the police department.

Federal officials confirmed for The News that Jennifer Fiore is not a target of their investigation.

In a May 5, 2016, conversation between Fiore and a Detroit cop about a stolen car that needed to be towed, the officer joked about following the rules and referring a tow to Nationwide (Towing), a competitor who handles the precinct where the car was found, Beeckman wrote.

When the officer told Fiore he had to give the job to Nationwide because the recovered vehicle was in that companys jurisdiction, Fiore apparently became angry.

You out of your (expletive) mind? said Fiore, according to a transcript of the call. They aint touching this car ... you and (the owner of Nationwide) will both be setting (sic) in (expletive) jail.

Beeckman wrote of the conversation: I believe that (Fiore) is saying that (the officer) and the owner of Nationwide would go to jail if (the officer) took kickbacks from Nationwide, because Fiore would report him.

When Fiore warned the cop hed end up behind bars, the officer replied: Oh, man ... youd be right there (in jail) with me.

Also, phone calls and text messages between Fiore and Highland Park Detective Sgt. James McMahon on May 18, 2016, show the cop asked for, and received, a metal culvert, a structure that allows water to flow under a road or tunnel, according to the court records.

Highland Park spokeswoman Marli Blackman declined to comment because McMahon is under investigation. He is also the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging he illegally seized peoples property and forged court documents.

Fiore sent McMahon, who is the member of a multi-jurisdictional stolen vehicle task force, a text instructing him where to pick up the equipment: bottom of hill at my 12 mile yd. 45700 west 12 Novi, according to the court records.


(313) 222-2134
Post Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:59 am 
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El Supremo

Judge Vonda Evans: Feds cleared my name. I am not a target in corruption probe
Tresa Baldas, Detroit Free Press Published 4:48 p.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018 | Updated 6:30 p.m. ET Jan. 2, 2018

Two weeks after her name appeared in a scathing FBI document, Wayne County Circuit Judge Vonda Evans said she got some much anticipated news from the federal government Tuesday:She's not a target in a corruption probe.

"We are pleased to advise that, after conferring and discussing this matter with (Assistant U.S. Attorney) Michael Bullotta, Judge Vonda Evans is neither a target nor a suspect in any federal investigation," Evans lawyer, Todd Perkins, wrote in an e-mail to the Free Press.

"It is unfortunate that Judge Evans has had to defend her integrity in the public forum and must reassure her constituents and her supporters that she has been cleared of any wrongdoing," Perkins wrote, adding "there is a reason why many investigations are not disclosed to the public as such disclosures may unfairly cast aspersions on people, like Judge Evans, who have done nothing wrong."

Evans told the Free Press: "After over 20 years as a public servant, I am elated and relieved that my name has been cleared."

The U.S. Attorney's Office confirmed that Evans is not a target in the corruption probe.

At issue is a confidential FBI affidavit that was accidentally released in a federal court case on Dec. 22 involving towing mogul Gasper Fiore, who pleaded guilty to bribery last month. The affidavit includes the names of 18 individuals whom the FBI described as targets in a widespread corruption probe. Among the names that was listed in the affidavit, which was filed to seek wiretapping approval, was Evans.

Evans, however, stressed repeatedly that she was not a target of any corruption investigation.

In court Tuesday, during the guilty plea hearing of a former Detroit police official who admitted to taking a bribe from Fiore, Bullotta brought up the accidental release of the FBI affidavit.

Bullotta called the disclosure "very troubling" and said it had a "rather devastating" effect on people's lives in that it harmed their reputations and they "didn't deserve that."

Bullotta did not name any person specifically.

During the hearing, U.S. District Judge David Lawson said the affidavit was "inadvertently" unsealed and called it "a clerical mistake."

Contact Tresa Baldas: tbaldas@freepress.com Follow her on Twitter @Tbaldas

Post Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:04 am 
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El Supremo

What we know about Flint's erupting waste controversy | Waste Dive
Sep 26, 2016 - Eric Mays, the council member supporting Mayor Weaver in the battle, noted he is asking for a public meeting to discuss the trash issue. ... 30: Both Rizzo Environmental Services and Republic Services plan to collect Flint's waste again today after a ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed an ...
Post Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:28 pm 
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El Supremo

What we know about Flint's erupting waste controversy
While Republic, Rizzo and city council settle contract chaos, we outline need-to-know points of the dispute.

Cole Rosengren
Oct. 25, 2016

UPDATE, Oct. 25: The Flint City Council voted unanimously to support a new $3.74 million contract with Republic Services on Oct. 24, as reported by MLive. Councilman Eric Mays, who had sided with Mayor Karen Weaver in support of Rizzo Environmental Services, abstained from the vote. The one-year contract would begin on Nov. 12 with the option to extend into 2018.

Rizzo's involvement in an ongoing federal corruption investigation was cited as a factor in this decision by Councilman Scott Kincaid. He and seven other council members also agreed to withdraw their lawsuit against Weaver and her administration related to the contract negotiations.

Final approval of the contract is still required from the Receivership Transition Authority Board. No date has been set for their next meeting

UPDATE, Oct. 20: Flint city officials are preparing to offer Republic Services a one-year contract, as reported by MLive. The new contract would cost $3.74 million per year and run until Nov. 12, 2017, with the option to extend.

City Council President Kerry Nelson told MLive that the council came to a "tentative deal" and is expected to vote on a resolution at their next regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 24. Final approval from the city's Receivership Transition Authority Board will then be required.

Representatives of Mayor Karen Weaver's office didn't say whether Rizzo Environmental Services' involvement in a federal corruption investigation had anything to do with this decision. Both companies have been collecting Flint's waste for more than two weeks now and it's still unclear whether Rizzo will be paid for its services during that time.

UPDATE, Oct. 13: Judge Joseph Farah declined to grant an injunction request filed by Republic Services last week to prevent the city from terminating its contract which runs until Nov. 11, as reported by MLive. Both Republic and Rizzo Environmental Services technically have contracts to collect the city's waste and have been doing so concurrently, though Mayor Karen Weaver believes a prior ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals says otherwise.

While Farah said he couldn't grant an injunction to prevent contract breach, he did disagree with Weaver's interpretation of the other ruling and said Republic would likely be successful against the city if it voided the company's contract. Farah also had strong words for the politicians on both sides of this dispute.

No settlement has been reached yet.

UPDATE, Oct. 12: Disagreements have broken out among the Flint City Council over how to resolve the contract issue. At a council meeting on Oct. 10, Councilman Eric Mays called his fellow members "stupid" for their stance in the negotiations, as reported by MLive.

Mays is the only council member to side with Mayor Karen Weaver's support of Rizzo Environmental Services, while the others support Republic Servcies. Though Mays asked for an update on the negotiations, the other members said it would be inappropriate to say anything in public due to ongoing litigation with Weaver. Both Republic and Rizzo continue to collect Flint's waste and no resolution has been announced.

UPDATE, Oct. 6: Councilman Scott Kincaid indicated he may withdraw the lawsuit against Mayor Karen Weaver and her administration, as reported by MLive. He noted, however, that he will continue to table items from her office while the contract issue is worked out.

"The court can't order (the city to hire anyone) and we couldn't get a resolution. If the administration wants to do an emergency purchase every couple of weeks ... that's on them," Kincaid said to MLive.

Eric Mays, the council member supporting Mayor Weaver in the battle, noted he is asking for a public meeting to discuss the trash issue. Overall, an agreement has not yet been reached.

UPDATE, Oct. 4: As of Oct. 3 a state-appointed arbitrator has been brought in by Judge Joseph Farah in an attempt to resolve three days of stalled negotiations in court. Both Rizzo Environmental Services and Republic Servcies were collecting waste again yesterday and, as reported by ABC12, at least one resident waited to put the trash out until her preferred hauler arrived. The dispute has even spilled over into the faith community, with a group of local pastors calling for Councilman Scott Kincaid to apologize to Mayor Karen Weaver for comments he made about her position in the negotiations last week.

Republic said no update was currently available and Rizzo could not be reached for comment.

UPDATE, Sept. 30: Both Rizzo Environmental Services and Republic Services plan to collect Flint's waste again today after a ruling from the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed an August filing by Genesee County Circuit Judge Joseph Farah. Mayor Karen Weaver has claimed this as a short-term victory.

"I am pleased that the State Court of Appeals has again ruled that I indeed had the authority to utilize my power as Mayor when I asked Rizzo Environmental Services, the lowest responsible bidder, to start collecting trash in Flint and requested that Republic discontinue its services. In light of todays developments, I have asked that crews from Rizzo temporarily resume collecting trash in the city," said Weaver in a statement.

The Court of Appeals has yet to rule on a temporary restraining order that was filed by Farah on Sept. 26.

"It is our understanding that today's Court of Appeals ruling does not impact the Temporary Restraining Order on interim collection service, which remains in effect. We plan to provide normal waste collection service on Friday, and remain optimistic that we will soon enter into a long-term service agreement with the City," said Russ Knocke, vice president of communications and public affairs with Republic Services, in a statement.

Weaver, members of her administration and select council members are set to meet again in court today to continue negotiations for a long-term contract.

Flint, MI has been in the news for many reasons in 2016, though the recent ongoing dispute over the city's waste contract may the hardest story to follow yet.

Republic Services has been collecting Flint's waste since early 2013. The decision to continue with Republic Services or start a new contract with Rizzo Environmental Services first came before the Flint City Council in June. While eight of the nine council members supported Republic, Mayor Karen Weaver and the ninth member supported Rizzo.

Since June, this dispute has led to collections being temporarily canceled, calls for a state investigation, a public records lawsuit, multiple legal motions by elected officials, an attempted termination of Republics temporary contract, one day where both companies were collecting the same routes and much more.

Republic currently has a temporary contract to continue collections until Nov. 11. Genesee County Circuit Judge Joseph Farah has signed a temporary restraining order preventing Weaver from hiring Rizzo or ending Republic's agreement. Farah required Weaver, city officials and council members to report to court this week until an agreement can be reached.

In an effort to clarify details around contract costs the main point of contention Waste Dive spoke to both Rizzo and Republic about information their bids contain. Republic also provided a Sept. 13 memo which was sent by the companys legal counsel to Derrick Jones, Flints purchasing manager, for further information.

Mayor Weaver's office could not be reached for comment. Councilman Scott Kincaid, who has been a leading proponent for Republic, could also not be reached for comment.

Terms and costs
According to the memo, Republic, Rizzo and Emterra Environmental USA submitted bids for a five-year contract with the city in the spring. The city administration had these bids evaluated by three officials: Purchasing Manager Jones, Transportation Director Kay Muhammad and Waste Services Coordinator Heather Griffin. They evaluated these bids between late May and early June based on multiple factors. Republic and Rizzo received the same score for cost, but Republic came out on top with a total of 80 points. Rizzo received 76 and Emterra received 69.

Republic bid $19.52 million, Emterra bid $18.51 million and Rizzo bid $17.42 million. Weaver backed Rizzo as the "lowest responsible bidder," citing the $2 million difference as the main factor in a city with dire financial constraints.

"We're offering a $2 million savings over five years, over the next lowest bidder," Joseph Munem, director of government affairs at Rizzo, told Waste Dive. "'Lowest responsible bidder' is a very narrowly defined descriptor, of which we are."

"There really is no $2 million savings with Rizzo." - Hicks
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Republic and the eight council members dispute this claim.

"There really is no $2 million savings with Rizzo," Gary Hicks, municipal services manager for Republic told Waste Dive. "When you read the city's own purchasing ordinance and you look at the bids that were submitted you find that Republic is the lowest responsible bidder."

Republic's Sept. 13 memo argues that Rizzos bid was "deficient in several ways" due to multiple factors.

Landfill access
The city's invitation to bid requested that the selected hauler allow residents with a city permit to dispose of up to one ton of debris for free at their landfill. According to a cover sheet in the memo, dated May 5, Rizzo noted that its list of services "does not include free dumps for residents."

Based on an assumed value of $35 per household, Republic says its landfill service is worth $1.34 million annually. The company argues that, in fact, this makes their bid less expensive.

"It is a true differentiating factor between everyone that bid," said Hicks.

Rizzo argues that it is now willing to offer unlimited bulk pick-up.

"Why in the world would anybody want to load up stuff in a truck and take it to the dump when we're going to pick up from them at the curb?" said Munem. "This is a specious argument."

Republic told Waste Dive it will also offer unlimited bulk pick-up at the curb.

Providing a blight plan
The city asked bidders to provide a blight remediation plan for dealing with large amounts of illegal dumping and waste from abandoned homes.

Republic proposed dedicating a collection truck and crew full-time to working with Flint's blight elimination division. The truck would have special identification and the crew would have special uniforms. Hicks says this was inspired by challenges crews currently face because they can't enter private property to collect illegally dumped items. Republic hopes that advertising this truck's special status and coming through neighborhoods regularly will encourage residents to bring their waste to the curb instead. City officials valued this at approximately $155,000 per year, though Republic argues that its true value is approximately $238,000.

Rizzo's original bid offered two 40-yard roll off containers per month at an estimated value of $12,000. The company has since said it would also include a clam truck and rear-load packer, along with staff. As Republics memo notes, the city's purchasing ordinance doesn't allow for bids to be altered or corrected once submitted. Rizzo says the change was a clarification as requested by the city, and not a modification. Rizzo also notes its experience dealing with illegal dumping in Detroit as another reason why it has the better plan.

"This is a fantasy that Republic is selling," said Munem. "By offering that clam truck and also by picking up bulk items unlimited we are offering the only truly significant blight remediation."

Ripple effects of the lead crisis
Based on these two factors, Republic argues that the true cost of each bid is different than has been reported.

"While Rizzo's base pricing is slightly lower, this is not surprising for a base bid that is missing several minimum bid requirements," reads the memo.

Since this process began in June, the city and council members have gravitated toward negotiating a contract for three years rather than five. According to Republic, when free landfill access and blight remediation are factored in it has the lowest bid for either timeframe.

For a three-year contract the company says that its total bid would be $11.59 million as compared to Rizzos $11.89 million. For a five-year contract, using this logic, Republics total bid would be $19.52 million as compared to Rizzos $22.12 million.

This question of which bid is in fact lowest matters more in Flint than most other cities. The city is still under the guidance of a Receivership Transition Advisory Board and is dealing with major infrastructure costs and consequences related to lead-tainted water.

Weaver cited this as the reason for her stance at a town hall meeting on Sept. 28.

"If you want to know what Im fighting about, some money, I thought about $2 million for more lead service line replacement, and $2 million is a lot," said Weaver, as reported by East Village Magazine. "I dont know why nobodys mad that they [Republic] have been charging us $2 million more."

"You have an irresponsible city council that is in a power struggle with the mayor." - Munem
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While the majority of council members disagree with this reasoning, Rizzo sides with the mayor's connection to the lead crisis.

"You have an irresponsible city council that is in a power struggle with the mayor," said Munem. "One would think that responsible elected officials would be looking to find every spare penny to sink into resolving that problem."

Hicks noted that Republic played a large role in assisting with the recycling of water bottles by increasing collection frequencies and other services.

"We continue to go out every day and try and provide the best service for the residents of the city of Flint that we can," he said.

Waste Dive will update this story as the situation develops.

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Post Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:31 pm 
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El Supremo

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1 September 13, 2016 Mr. Derrick Jones Purchasing Manager City of Flint Department of Purchases & Supplies City Hall, 2
Floor, M203 1101 S. Saginaw Street Flint, MI 48502
Re: Waste Collection Services Contract Lowest Responsible Bidder Analysis
Dear Mr. Jones, Thank you for your invitation to meet with City staff and City Council members to discuss the Waste Collection Services Contract and the Republic Services bid. To facilitate that discussion, we have taken the liberty of preparing the following information that we believe will provide City staff and City Council members with insightful information and documents that will be of use in their lowest responsible bidder analysis.

The City Council has determined that a three-year contract will be awarded.
It is our understanding that the City Council, in the exercise of its authority under 3-101 of the Flint City Charter and 18-21.1 of the Purchasing Ordinance, a copy of which is attached

hereto as
Exhibit 1
, has determined that a three-year contract is in the best interests of the people of Flint. As the Invitation to Bid, a copy of which is attached hereto as
Exhibit 2
, did not require the Council to choose one or the other, but instead simply states that [t]he services requested will be for either a three (3) year or five (5) year period we acknowledge that this choice is within the Councils sound discretion. Moreover, we agree with the City Council that a three-year contract allows for greater market influence on pricing, and provides a sooner opportunity for the City to reap the benefits of increased operational efficiency that comes with years of experience by prospective vendors, and for those savings to be passed on to the citizens of Flint. It is undoubtedly true that a three-year contract is in the best financial interests of the people of Flint. Given our understanding of the length of contract being considered by the City Council, the majority of this correspondence will focus on the three-year contract. However, we are happy to answer any questions about either Republics three-year bid or five-year bid.


Rizzo was not a qualified or responsible bidder.
The Rizzo original bid is deficient in several ways. First, the Invitation to Bid requires that vendors provide public access to a landfill. Specifically, the Invitation to Bid states as follows: The City is requesting that the selected vendor provide residents a means to dispose up to one ton of debris free with a City permit at the landfill that is being utilized by said vendor. Invitation to Bid, pg. 12-13. However, Rizzos bid does not meet this minimum bid requirement of providing public access to a landfill. As noted on the Rizzo bid cover form, a copy of which is attached hereto as
Exhibit 3
, Rizzos original bid expressly does
include public access to a landfill.
Second, the Invitation to Bid requires each vendor to offer a blight remediation plan. Specifically, the Invitation to Bid states as follows Vendor will have to include in their proposal a plan that will assist the City in fighting the blight problem. The plan can be articulated on a separate sheet of paper and must include the plan, how it will operate, and the cost associate with implementing said plan. Invitation to Bid, pg. 13. However, the Rizzo bid did not include a satisfactory blight remediation plan, offering instead only two 40-yard roll off containers. An excerpt of Rizzos original bid containing Rizzos deficient blight remediation plan (the Rizzo Blight Plan) is attached hereto as
Exhibit 4
. As a result of these two minimum bid requirement deficiencies, among others, Rizzo is not a qualified or responsible bidder, and the City Council and City staff should exclude Rizzo from consideration.

Rizzos attempted post-bid-opening modifications must be rejected.
It appears that Rizzo improperly attempted to modify its bid after the sealed bids were opened. In a competitive and sealed bidding environment, as is required by 18-21.3 of the Purchasing Ordinance, such modifications after the bids are opened are, of course, not permitted. As just one example of an attempted post-bid-opening modification, Rizzo attempted to modify its bid to add a clam truck, rear loader packer, and/or roll off dumpster at no additional charge to its blight remediation plan, as detailed in the attached email from Rizzo to City staff. See Rizzo Email Modification, attached hereto as
Exhibit 5
. Despite Rizzos protestations to the contrary in this email, this is clearly a
modification as evidenced by simply comparing it to the original Rizzo Blight Plan that expressly includes only two roll-off containers (
Exhibit 4

Republic Services is the lowest responsible bidder on the 3-year contract.
While Rizzo has widely disseminated the false narrative that Rizzo is the lowest bidder, this is simply not true. While Rizzos
pricing is slightly lower, this is not surprising for a base bid that is missing several minimum bid requirements. However, the Purchasing Ordinance requires the monetization of value added services in order to achieve a level basis upon which to compare competing bids. See Purchasing Ordinance, 18-21.3(5). As Judge Farah stated at the

Rizzo has conceded, in its motion filed with the Circuit Court, that its bid does not contain public access to a landfill, but incorrectly argues that the existence of bulk waste removal is a substitute for this public access. This is incorrect. The bid specifications require both. And Republic offers both the unlimited bulk waste removal identified by Rizzo as well as the public access to a landfill as both were required by the Invitation to Bid.

3 hearing on August 11
, the City Council and City staff must monetize these value-added services in order to make an apples-to-apples comparison of bids. To reach that level comparison, both the value of the Republic Services blight remediation plan and public access to a landfill must be monetized and included. In fact, City Administrations own bid review confirms the necessity of this value-added services analysis under 18-21.3(5), and, even demonstrates that Republic Services is the lowest responsible bidder on a three-year contract. In the City Administrations bid calculation spreadsheet (the City Administration Calculations), a copy of which is attached hereto as
Exhibit 6
, the City Administration makes a Blight Remediation Added Value Cost Comparison. After only consideration of the blight remediation value added service, Republic Services is the low bidder at $11,586,552, while Rizzos bid is priced at $11,672,617. While this valuation by the City Administration undervalues the blight remediation differential at $154,840, even with the undervaluation of the blight remediation differential, Republic Services is the lowest bidder.
The actual difference in value between Rizzos deficient blight remediation plan and Republics robust blight remediation plan is $226,345. This is calculated as follows: (1) Rizzos deficient plan is valued at $12,000 (see
Exhibit 4
); and (2) Republics robust plan is valued at $238,345, as articulated in Republics presentation to the City Council in February 2016, a copy of which is attached hereto at
Exhibit 7
. The calculation of lowest responsible bidder, even after considering only the blight remediation plan value-added services is as follows:

Moreover, the City Administrations calculations fail to include the value of the public access to a landfill, which has a value of $35 per household per year, for a total annual value of $1,341,305. Once the public access to landfill value-added service is considered, the lowest bidder calculation is as follows:

The point is this: Even if Rizzos bid is considered along with Republic Services bid, once just these two value added services are monetized and considered, Republic Services is the lowest responsible bidder by a
wide margin

The City Administration ultimately corrected the valuation of Republic Services blight remediation program in hand-written comments on the Republic valuation page, attached hereto as
Exhibit 9

4 In fact, although we understand it to be a moot point given the City Councils decision to award a three-year contract, Republic Services is also the lowest responsible bidder on a five-year contract as follows:
=#$%&' ()*+'&,+ -.+%''& /%01234, /455) 6&7% 8'4,4*9 :;@<Speak to the hand;<=BC :;?<Speak to the hand@<G"A :;><G;@<AGG 6349D+ /%.%E4&+4)* 83&* F 8%' $%&' :B"@<"G= H*,31E%E :BBA<"G= 81234, J,,%77 K&*EL433 F 8%' $%&' :;<"G;<"C= H*,31E%E :;<"G;<"C= I)+&3 64E 8'4,% :BA<GC?<>>C

It is for these reasons, among others, that Republic Services was given the highest evaluation by all three City Administration staff members tasked with reviewing the bids.
Once the bids were submitted to the City of Flint and the sealed bids were opened, the City Administration tasked the following three staff members with the responsibility for reviewing and evaluating the bids: (1) Transportation Director Kay Muhammed, (2) Purchasing Manager Derrick Jones, and (3) Waste Services Coordinator Heather Griffin. All three of those bid evaluators unanimously awarded Republic the highest score of all bidders of 80. On the other hand, Rizzo received a score of 76, and Emterra received a score of 69. See Bid Evaluation Forms, attached hereto as
Exhibit 8
. Quite simply, by every measure used to evaluate the bids, the Republic Services bid is superior.
As demonstrated by these factors, we respectfully submit that Republic Services is indisputably the lowest responsible bidder for the waste collection services contract, and Republic Services stands ready to continue providing exceptional service to the City of Flint and its citizens. Very truly yours,



Steve J. Sielatycki, Esq. Counsel for Republic Services
Post Thu Jan 04, 2018 2:36 pm 
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El Supremo

Macomb businessman charged in bribery conspiracy
Robert Snell, The Detroit News Published 12:43 p.m. ET Jan. 3, 2018

Detroit A businessman whose phone was tapped by FBI agents investigating Macomb County corruption was charged recently accused of participating in a bribery conspiracy.

The case against Robert Maechtle, 47, of Sterling Heights, was filed six days after The Detroit News detailed how FBI agents tapped his phone during a probe that led investigators to start orbiting the lucrative world of municipal sewer projects and former Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Anthony Marrocco. The Dec. 8 charge was unsealed Wednesday.

Maechtle, a manager at Motor City Electric, is accused of conspiring with others to give a $2,000 cash bribe to the late Washington Township public works superintendent Steven Hohensee. The bribe was an attempt by Maechtles company to secure a contract with the township in 2014, according to federal court records.

Roberts actions were independent and had no gain for Motor City, the companys lawyer Todd Flood said. We continue to support the investigation and the government and respect where theyre going.

Maechtle was charged in a criminal information, which means a guilty plea is expected.

Mr. Maechtle has cooperated fully with the government and is prepared to accept responsibility for his role in connection with this investigation, his lawyer John Shea said Wednesday.

Maechtle is the 19th person charged in a widespread corruption investigation that started in Macomb County and spread to Detroit.

The alleged conspiracy dates to spring 2014.

Thats when prosecutors say Maechtle conspired with two people who have struck plea deals with the government: Former Macomb County Public Works Department chief engineer James Pistilli and engineer Paulin Modi.

Pistilli and Modi facilitated communication between Maechtle, whose company was seeking a contract with Washington Township, and Hohensee, the government alleges.

Maechtle indicated he was willing to bribe Hohensee to obtain the contract, according to court records.

In June 2014, Pistilli met Maechtle and the two talked about paying the Washington Township official $2,000. Months later, Maechtle met with Hohensee and offered to pay the bribe.

On Oct. 20, 2014, Maechtle met Hohensee and gave him the $2,000 bribe, according to court records.

Hohensee was among those charged during the ongoing corruption investigation and started cooperating with the FBI. He died in October of apparent natural causes.


(313) 222-2486

Twitter: @robertsnellnews
Post Thu Jan 04, 2018 3:23 pm 
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