A Smithtown garbage contractor has been sentenced for defrauding the Town of Smithtown for $222,000.
The scheme entailed illegally passing off over the course of several years consumer waste from locations across Long Island as commercial waste generated by businesses in the Town of Smithtown.
“These defendants were stealing money from the taxpayers in the Town of Smithtown and from their own hardworking employees,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Tim Sini (D) at a Sept. 20 press event following the sentencing.
Mario Garofalo, 61, of East Northport, and his cousin Robert “Bobby” Garofalo, 64, of Kings Park, each pleaded guilty to felony charges May 13 for attempted enterprise corruption. The corporate entity, V. Garofalo Carting Inc., also pleaded guilty to enterprise corruption. The three defendants were sentenced by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice William J. Condon to conditional discharges, which include restitution payments of $222,000 to the Town of Smithtown. The case also found that the business had violated prevailing wage laws and was ordered to pay $32,000 to underpaid company employees.
“That’s $222,000 in residents tax dollars that these defendants pocketed for no reason other than their own greed.”
— Tim Sini
The Garofalo attorney did not respond to a telephone request for comment. Details in the plea agreement show that the company forfeited $1.1 million in cash plus assets that include a front end loader and a metal container. Payments were made to the town from that forfeiture. The remaining assets were used to cover court costs and other public safety initiatives.
The case, according to the DA, was an extremely complex investigation and prosecution.
In 1990, New York State ordered most Long Island landfills closed, according to the town. Consequently, the town has paid Covanta Waste Management for the disposal of commercial waste from certain businesses operating within the town. To be acceptable, the commercial waste must be generated from known businesses within the town, registered by unique accounts with the town, and the registered businesses must pay fees and receive a unique medallion identifying the establishment as part of the plan. Carting companies, including Garofalo Carting, submit a manifest each time Smithtown commercial waste is brought to Covanta, attesting to the contents.
The investigation revealed that the Garofalos and their company repeatedly disposed of waste at Covanta’s facility in East Northport that was collected throughout Long Island from their customers, including through roll-off containers, then falsely attesting that the waste was solely Town of Smithtown commercial waste.
In total, the investigation found that the Garofalo corporation unlawfully avoided paying $222,000 in fees, which were instead paid by the town as a result of the scheme.
“That’s $222,000 in residents tax dollars that these defendants pocketed for no reason other than their own greed,” Sini said.
The defendants profited from the scheme by falsifying business records, including their garbage disposal manifests, and submitting them to the Town of Smithtown for payment, the DA stated. The defendants also profited from the fees collected from their private customers for both garbage pickup as well as roll-off container rentals, according to the DA.
“Today’s verdict is the product of an intricate intergovernmental investigation, which was exceptionally well litigated,” said town Supervisor Ed Wehrheim (R).
During the course of the investigation, the Town of Smithtown also referred to the District Attorney’s Office the issue of prevailing wage claims by employees of Garofalo Carting.
With the criminal enterprise effectively shut down, the DA said justice has now been served for Smithtown residents.
“Enterprise corruption cases are often extremely complex, and certainly require a lot of hard work and dedication by investigators and prosecutors, but our office is determined,” Sini said. “We are committed to dedicating resources and utilizing innovative strategies to seek justice in each and every case, and that’s exactly what was done here today.”
“Today’s verdict is the product of an intricate intergovernmental investigation, which was exceptionally well litigated.”
— Ed Wehrheim
This case was prosecuted by county Criminal Investigations Division Chief Megan O’Donnell and Assistant District Attorney Lucie Kwon, of the county Financial Investigations & Money Laundering Bureau.
“I would like to commend the detectives who worked diligently on this case and I hope our strong partnership with the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office sends a message that fraudulent business practices will not be tolerated in Suffolk County,” said county Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart.
The Town of Smithtown’s six-year contract with Garofalo Carting, which was from 2014 to 2020, is now void, according to the supervisor’s press office. The Town Board has instead hired National Waste Services, of Bay Shore, to replace services for garbage pickup at its Sept. 3 meeting. National Waste Services recently purchased Garofalo Carting and has retained the Garofalo trucks and employees, according to Smithtown’s Attorney Matthew Jakubowski.
The town paid $2.1 million to Garofalo Carting in 2018 for its services, which included garbage pickup for six of the 12 solid waste districts in the town. The contracts are based on weight of waste collected annually.