- Taylor Garbage Services is asking customers for "forgiveness" a day after the company was named in a price collusion settlement with Bert Adams Disposal by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. In a statement, reported by the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, the company said "these events occurred several years ago" and "no one from Taylor Garbage, nor the company itself, was charged or convicted of any crimes related to this incident."
- According to Schneiderman's office, "the two companies entered into collusive agreements to rig bids for waste-hauling, recycling, and related services, and forced customers to pay excessive prices for basic services" from at least July 2014 through May 2016. Taylor has admitted to violating New York's Donnelly Act and agreed to pay $500,000 in civil penalties along with appointing a compliance officer. Co-owner Robert Taylor will pay an additional $50,000.
- Bert Adams Disposal, and majority owner Elbert Adams, pleaded guilty in Broome County Court to violating the Donnelly Act. The company will pay $850,000 in criminal penalties. Adams will pay $75,000 in criminal penalties. Adams and employee Christopher Kline will each pay an additional $37,500 in criminal penalties related to another misdemeanor charge.
Schneiderman's office tracked this system through "hundreds of text messages and calls," a few of which were included in the announcement and show clear coordination on pricing. The two companies pre-planned price increases, actively inflated service quotes to prevent customers from switching, and agreed to hold off on bidding against each other. This involved both commercial and municipal accounts.
New York's Donnelly Act has been on the books since 1899 and is similar to the federal Sherman Act in terms of antitrust regulation. Schneiderman's office did not pursue the maximum allowable penalties under state law for either party. The relatively lighter penalties for Taylor and his company were said to "reflect the company’s early confession of its responsibility for the anticompetitive conduct and its prompt cooperation, including the disclosure of critical information in furtherance of the Attorney General’s investigation."
According to their respective websites, each company has been in business for 40 years or more and are said to be "dominant" players in the local market. It's not immediately clear how this will affect their financial standings and reputations in the months ahead. Other companies have been caught for similar practices in years past and survived.
This is the latest in a series of waste-related investigations by Schneiderman's office in recent years. Other recent areas of focus include a court order against an illegal construction and demolition processing facility in South Buffalo, a lawsuit over illegal dumping on Long Island and a living wage back pay settlement for workers at Republic Services subsidiary Allied Waste in Buffalo.