This is part two of the Investigative Report on Spiezo that appeared in the July 2018 edition of Black Westchester Newspaper
During our two-year long investigation, we talked to several other Sanitation Companies that operate in Westchester County like Cortlandt, NY based, CRP Sanitation and Buchanan, NY based, AAA Carting as well as others in the many municipalities where Mr. Spiezio has or had contracts to collect trash like Rye Brook, Yonkers and Yorktown.
Many of them, who have interacted with Mr. Spiezio and his trash hauling empire all told Black Westchester one of two things; either they said, ‘if they did a tenth of what Spiezio’s companies were doing the Solid Waste Commission would have fined them and they may be out of the trash collecting business.’ Or the next most given response was that ‘it appears he has someone protecting him higher-up or in the Solid Waste Commission, itself.’
One example of Spiezio’s teflon-like reign of blatant disregard for the rule of law and lack of fear of repercussion for his actions, would be freely using his companies to cart without a license.
Lohud reported on April 23, 2017 that ‘Spiezio got into an ugly shouting match, caught on video, with Mount Vernon City Councilman Andre Wallace,’ in June of 2016. Spiezio threatened to do body harm to Councilman Wallace and hurled homophobic slurs at him. The Councilman confronted Spiezio for illegally hauling trash from a Mount Vernon business with his Competition Carting trucks who have never had a license to haul trash in the City of Mount Vernon.
“I was elected by the people of Mount Vernon to legislate and protect our city, Councilman Wallace told Black Westchester. “I will never bend or submit to bullies or thugs. Spiezio has threatened my life at least five times including once stating if I didn’t behave myself, I could end up in the back of one of his garbage trucks. His threats will not stop me from doing the people’s work.”
In our investigation, we talked to other carting companies in Westchester to find out how that works with having a license in the name of one company and using another company you own under another name. Pat Cartalemi Jr., owner of AAA Carting informed Black Westchester, that a company cannot haul trash without a license even if the owner of said company has a license with another company he owns. We were also informed Spiezio also applies the practice when it comes to worker’s compensation insurance, but we will get to that later.
Spiezio – who has a law degree but has never passed the bar – obviously knew he was breaking the law, that Saturday afternoon in June of 2016, because the video clearly shows Competition Carting trucks leaving at Spiezio’s orders after Councilman Wallace pointed out they do not have permission and R&S Waste Management trucks replacing them just before the altercation.
After committing, what can only be considered a blatant violation, instead of being fined for illegal trash removal without a license by the Solid Waste Commission or being charged with threatening a sitting City Councilman by the MVPD, no action was taken. Spiezio put on his Deputy Police Commissioner hat and had the report of the incident say Councilman Wallace arrived on the scene and threatened him and his employees. Despite what the video – we posted on June 19, 2016 that instantly went viral – clearly showed. This is also just one of the many documented violations that proved there is a clear conflict of interest in his dual roles we spoke of. As has been the case with many other reported infractions, there was no action taken against Spiezio by the Solid Waste Commission. The question is why is that?
We reached out to officials in some of the municipalities Spiezio has contracts to question if he was properly vetted before being granted the contract for trash removal.
The Yorktown Town Clerk’s office was quick to point out it was the previous administration that gave Spiezio’s Competition Carting the contract, when Black Westchester called to inquire about Spiezio license. Although they could not speak on the dealings with Speizio, they wanted it to be crystal clear, it was a new administration, that had just taken office in January this year. They did tell us that Competition no longer has a license in Yorktown. They lost the bid this year to AAA Carting, who had the best bid. We are told Spiezio is currently trying to appeal the decision.
Another clear example of Spiezio’s teflon-like reign of blatant disregard for the rule of law and lack of fear of repercussion for his actions, would be the hit-and-run incident involving one of his trucks and the alleged cover up of the investigation.
A Mount Vernon couple went to the 24 hour HE Laundromat located at 174 W 1st St, 6am, Friday, December 9, 2016, parked near the back entrance of the establishment to bring the clothes inside. While bringing the clothes inside a R&S Waste Removal truck pushes the couple’s parked 2016 Ford Explorer approximately 150 feet and then pulls off (remaining in sight of the camera), like nothing happened. Then the same truck returns to the parking lot to pick up the trash, like they just got there.
The owner went to the MVPD and gave them video and information to report the incident. The officer runs a 10-28 (registration request) and the licence plate comes back owned by R&S Waste Removal, a company owned by MVPD Deputy Commissioner Joseph Spiezio III. There was no investigation.
Lohud reported that Yorktown bid out its garbage contract in the fall of 2012. After a small-scale carter received the contract by virtue of a ridiculously low bid, Spiezio was brought in to run the business.
The previous contractor, CRP Sanitation, unsuccessfully sued the town, arguing the lowest “responsible” bid had not been accepted. CRP’s Ronald Carbone contends that Spiezio and his company R&S Waste Services had stayed out of the fray initially to avoid any vetting. We are told R&S would not have passed the vetting process.
In Yonkers, all officials would tell us is they ran R&S and Spiezio out-of-town but would not elaborate as to the why and how. In Rye Brook where Mr. Spiezio’s company underbid AAA, and just won another contact, City Officials tell BW that they are already unsatisfied with the results and that his crews were picking up trash until almost midnight the day before we spoke in early June of this year.
Our research shows that Spiezio, a would-be developer who appeared on the scene in Yonkers – two decades ago – hoping to make his mark as the city sought to reshape its downtown and waterfront, abruptly shifted to the garbage industry in 2011. He took over the business of a financially troubled Yonkers company, Rogan Brothers Sanitation – much like he took over Competition Carting – and formed R&S Waste Services. Rogan and R&S were accused of union-busting activities and the National Labor Relations Board found that they had engaged in unfair labor practices. The companies, Rogan and R&S, remain embroiled in a lawsuit by the Teamsters Local 813 pension and insurance trust funds, The Journal News reported.
When we first reported on May 3, 2016 that Spiezio had been sued for not paying prevailing wages, Spiezio shrugged if off as “fake news,” on social media much like the president he publicly strongly supports. Spiezio responded by saying Black Westchester won’t cover Real News like Councilman Andre Wallace’s company CDCD being investigated for not paying prevailing wages. While we could not find anything apart from Facebook posts from Spiezio and various members of the Thomas Administration to substantiate those claims, we did find the case where Spiezio was being accused.
According to court documents obtained by BW, Gregory Yunga, Antonio Chogllo, Edgar Marcelo Rodriquez, Antonio Guaman, Osvaldo Mejia, Jose Chogllo, Oswaldo E. Orgega, Oscar Soto, Freddy Delgado, Jaksson Ramon, William Mejia, Jorge R. Ludizaca, Richard Mejia, Tito Hernandez Gomez, Fernando Mainato, Alberto Eduardo Valencia Vega, Daniel Sandoval, Segundo Palchispaca, and Genaro W. Ortega all Latino males all worked various time periods between February 2000 through July 2005 for Defendant Joseph Spiezio of 22 Beachfront Lane, New Rochelle as a laborer with respect to various construction projects including: 1211 North Broadway, Yonkers, New York; 1214 North Broadway, Yonkers, New York; 45 South Broadway, Yonkers, New York; 55 Main Street, Yonkers, New York; 92 Main Street, Yonkers, New York; 296-324 Long Beach Road, Island Park, New York; a privately owned property situated in Long Beach, New York; a building in Bronx County which apparently belonged to Spiezio’s mother; Defendant Spiezio’s home in New Rochelle, New York; and a shopping center known as Centuck situated at Tuckahoe Road and Central Avenue, Yonkers, New York.
Hezi Ariz reported in the May 22, 2008 online edition of The Yonkers Tribune, that; ‘approximately 50 Latino immigrants, supported by civic leaders rallied against Westchester County based developer Joseph Spiezio III who maintained an office for the conduct of business at 55 Main Street, Yonkers, for alleged abuse and mishandling of his workers.’
In the May 29, 2008 edition of The Westchester Guardian, the front page story titled, “Connected Developer Joe Spiezio Calls His Latino Workers Spics And Steals Their Wages,” informed readers of a federal lawsuit filed by Latino workers, employees of Yonkers developer Joe Spiezio, charging Spiezio, his accountant and his bookkeeper with violations of the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as New York State Labor Law.
The Westchester Guardian confirmed what the aforementioned court documents read; Spiezio was specifically charged with several intentional unlawful acts, including violation of Wages and Hours Laws, as well as failing to pay overtime wages “for work in excess of forty hours per week” (several workers worked an average of fifty-five to sixty hours a week) as well as “periodically requiring work on Sundays without compensation at all.” In addition, the Summons and Complaint led by civil rights attorney Jonathan Lovett, of White Plains, alleged that Spiezio appropriated, in cash, for his own benefit, twenty percent of the wages paid to all of the Latino manual laborers and carpenters on the false representation that it was for “taxes to be withheld for, and paid by, Defendants to federal, state and Yonkers tax authorities.” In actuality, that money, beginning in 2000, was stolen and not paid to any taxing authority.
According to court documents, in Jose Chogllo’s last week of work in July 2005, although he worked over sixty hours, he was paid nothing for that week. Also, Segundo Palchospaca was entitled to two weeks paid vacation annually. But in 2003, 2004, 2005, he was required by Spiezio to work both weeks of his vacation and was not paid for the vacation time he was due.
While the burden of proof in the allegations against Councilman Wallace seems to be un-met, baseless and another attempt to discredit Wallace as we have seen Mayor Thomas’ critics attempt to do to him as well once or twice. We have displayed on BlackWestchester.com, what it looks like when workers aren’t being paid prevailing wages.
The Lohud article reported; An administrative law judge in the labor case said Spiezio’s modus operandi was to take over struggling businesses after offering high-interest loans on which they were likely to default. The judge described Spiezio as a “vulture capitalist,” but not pejoratively.
“In nature, vultures and their scavenging allies amongst the insects, bacteria and fungi perform the necessary task of cleaning up and recycling the mess left by the dead and dying,” Raymond Green, the judge, wrote in 2013.
Once he got his waste-hauling license from Westchester County in 2011, Spiezio set his sights on municipal garbage contracts and licenses around the region. According to his sanitation counterparts he has been reported dozens of times and is allowed to operate with impunity.
The Solid Waste Commission is the governing body that is supposed to deal with corruption in sanitation in Westchester County. Several of the companies we spoke with said they have all gone to the SWC with complaints and allegations against Mr. Spiezio and his various companies and to date nothing has been done. It has to make one question if some of the members are in the pocket of Spiezio, since that also seems to be his modus operandi, just look at how things currently are in the City of Mount Vernon.
Westchester Solid Waste Commission #b The second purpose of this chapter is to address the influence and the threat of the influence of organized crime in the solid waste and recycling industries operating in Westchester County. The Westchester County Board of Legislators have found that organized crime permeates the solid waste hauling industry in Westchester County and constitutes a significant problem and matter of public concern within the County. The existence of cartels has produced anti-competitive effects in the industry including, but not limited to, price-fixing; the prevention of new entry into the industry; the existence of unconscionable customer contract terms; and the incidence of corruption.
To date the County has failed to abide by its mission thus far when it comes to Joe Speizio.
With a new administration sworn in, January 2018, we reached out to newly appointed Deputy County Executive Kenneth Jenkins to inquire about the Solid Waste Commission and the lack of properly looking into allegations and complaints filed against Spiezio.
“The Solid Waste Commission is an arm of law enforcement and whatever complaints there was, continues,” Jenkins shares with Black Westchester. This
administration’s Solid Waste Commission includes two former FBI agents and the Deputy County Executive, himself.
Deputy County Executive Jenkins advises all who have previously reported an infraction and made a complaint, that, “they should inquire of the status of their complaint now.” The deputy county executive did not respond to our follow-up question; ‘With his past of criminality, how did he get the County contract for trash removal and will that be looked into?’
So, we will have to wait and see if the impunity Spiezio has enjoyed all this time will continue or has his get-out-of-jail-free-card been revoked? Will the Solid Waste Commission fulfill its mission now, where Spiezio is involved? Black Westchester will be watching and report our findings to you the readers.
Due to limitation of space and deadline to get paper to the printer, we were unable to get to everyone who had information for us – 7 more people who had information and agreed to talk to us including three that reached out to us – as well as confirming some of what we were told. We will continue our ongoing investigative report into Mr Spiezio in our August 2018 – One Year Anniversary issue, so stay tuned.
But with what we have shared in this issue we hope we met our mark as the media and as investigative journalists, to play a crucial role in bringing allegations of corruption to light and fighting against impunity. Now that we have, we will be monitoring what City and County Government officials do with this information and inquiring and following any and all investigation. This is just the beginning, where do we all collective go from here? The residents also need to get involved and call their elected officials and find out what is or isn’t being done.
We invite anyone with any information to email us at BlackWestchester@gmail.com and I will end this the way we started by asking these simple questions. With alleged corruption, insurance fraud, the NYS AG Investigation and being a prime suspect in an open arson investigation, how does Spiezio still get city and governmental contracts? Why does the Solid Waste Commission allow Spiezio to operate with impunity? Why haven’t elected officials in the City of Mount Vernon looked into the illegitimacy of his Deputy Police Commissioner appointment and done anything about it? Will the Solid Waste Commission under this new adminstration investigate the many allegations and complaints levied against Spiezio? Why isn’t Spiezio being investigating for impersonating Law Enforcement? Inquiring Minds would like to know. Some one is dropping the ball!