Responding to a county supervisor's request for a background report on a company that could operate a new Ventura County landfill, the Sheriff's Department reported Tuesday that it could find no link between Waste Management Inc.'s officers and organized crime.
The report was requested by Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Maggie Erickson Kildee, who said the report was sparked by "calls and complaints" from citizens alleging crime connections.
Oak Brook, Ill.-based Waste Management, a multibillion-dollar firm, has a number of landfills and rubbish collection services in California.
In Ventura County, the firm is competing with the Ventura Regional Sanitation District to provide landfill service and has filed a proposal with county planners to operate a new landfill in Weldon Canyon, eight miles south of Ojai. The site, which Waste Management leases, is considered one of the top five locations for a new landfill in western Ventura County.
The report, compiled under the direction of Undersheriff Larry W. Carpenter, summarizes the company's criminal, civil and administrative litigation during the past two decades and lists its officers.
"We were there to lay out a track record, and that's what we did," Carpenter said. "We didn't say they were good guys or bad guys."
The report showed that two Waste Management employees were convicted in criminal proceedings in Illinois in 1985 and 1987, stemming from charges that they bribed public officials to obtain favorable treatment on waste contracts. Both employees were fired by the company.
Ten criminal cases against the company between 1980 and 1990 also are listed, the most recent filed against Valley Reclamation Co., a Waste Management subsidiary, alleging misdemeanor violations at a Los Angeles County landfill. The company pleaded, in effect, guilty and paid a $2,450 fine.
Summed up the sheriff's report: "Waste Management, as well as several of its divisions and subsidiaries, have been the subject of local, state and federal investigations throughout the nation. Generally, the complaints against the company involved bribery and antitrust violations including bid rigging, price fixing and price gouging."
As for its officers, it said: "We have not developed information . . . which would suggest that any of these individuals are, or have been, involved with any traditional organized crime subjects."