Two Commercial Trash Haulers Admit to Bribing Baltimore City Landfill Employees
BALTIMORE, MD—Mustafa Sharif, age 63, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy and bribery in connection with a scheme in which commercial haulers paid Department of Public Works (DPW) employees cash in return for allowing the haulers to deposit trash at the Quarantine Road Landfill (Landfill) without paying the required disposal fees. Adam Williams, Jr., age 52, of Randallstown, pleaded guilty to the same charges on July 17, 2015.
The plea agreements were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Robert H. Pearre, Jr., Inspector General, City of Baltimore Office of Inspector General; Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of the Internal Revenue Service—Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
The DPW’s Bureau of Solid Waste is responsible for managing Baltimore City’s waste management services, including overseeing citizen drop-off centers, such as the Northwest Transfer Station (NWTS) and the Landfill. Baltimore City’s waste management system generates revenue for the City by collecting and selling recyclable scrap metal dumped at the City’s trash collection facilities. The City contracts with private salvage companies to purchase and remove scrap metal from its trash collection facilities. DPW employees at the Landfill and NWTS are required to place the recyclable scrap metal in separate bins provided by the salvage companies. The salvage companies regularly pick up the scrap metal and, based on predetermined prices per ton, the salvage companies pay the City for the value of the scrap metal.
Baltimore City residents can deposit small amounts of trash and/or recyclables in dumpsters located near the main entrance of the Landfill, free of charge. Individuals or companies commercially hauling trash that have registered their vehicles with the City and obtained Landfill permits, as well as Baltimore City residents with larger loads, must deposit their trash in an open area located farther within the Landfill. Commercial haulers of trash that meet certain vehicle weight limitations must, in addition to purchasing a Landfill permit, pay a waste disposal fee of $67.50 per ton of trash deposited at the Landfill.
DPW employees assigned as scale house operators weigh each truck as it enters the Landfill, which is recorded on a computerized point-of-sale system. To activate the system and record a particular transaction, DPW employees must enter the tag number of the truck and a corresponding billing code. The scale house operators reweigh each truck as it leaves the Landfill. The net weight of the deposited trash and the required disposal fee is then calculated and printed on a receipt that is handed to the driver.
According to his plea agreement, in 2005, Williams collected and hauled trash in his small dump truck when he learned from a friend that he could avoid paying the disposal fee if he paid a cash bribe to the scale house operators. After the friend introduced Williams to a scale house operator, none of the scale house operators, including Tamar Washington, charged Williams a disposal fee for using the Landfill. In 2006 Williams partnered with another individual to haul trash, and then operated his own hauling business from 2007 to 2015. He paid a $100 bribe to the scale house operator for each trip he made to the Landfill, which saved him thousands of fees each month. Williams either paid the operator through the outbound window at the scale house, or met the operators at an off-site location where he would pay a week’s worth of bribes or more. From July 1, 2014 to May 1, 2015 alone, Williams paid more than $42,000 in bribe payments in lieu of paying the required waste disposal fees, which totaled approximately $120,000.
According to his plea agreement, in 2012, Sharif collected and hauled trash in his small dump truck when one day he was allowed to dump trash at the Landfill without paying the disposal fee. Sharif told Williams about what had happened, and Williams explained that Sharif could avoid paying the disposal fee every time he dumped at the Landfill if he paid $100 in cash to the “girls” at the scale house, meaning Tamara Washington and another individual. Thereafter, Sharif paid the bribes, either through Williams or directly to the scale house operators, which saved him thousands of dollars in disposal fees each month. Sharif would meet one of the scale house operators off-site to deliver the weekly bribes, or he would drop it off in an envelope at their respective residences. From July 1, 2014 to May 1, 2015 alone, Sharif paid more than $42,000 in bribe payments in lieu of paying the required waste disposal fees, which totaled approximately $150,000.
Sharif has agreed to forfeit and pay restitution of $500,000 and Williams has agreed to forfeit and pay restitution of $900,000.
Sharif and Williams face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the conspiracy and 10 years in prison for bribery. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis has scheduled sentencing for Williams on October 21, and Sharif on November 6, 2015.
Former Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) employee Tamara Oliver Washington, age 55, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty on July 2, 2015 to the conspiracy and to solicitation of bribes, and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 20, 2015, at 10:00 a.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, IRS-CI, Baltimore Office of Inspector General, and Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorney Martin J. Clarke, who is prosecuting the case.