UPDATE: For the first time, Rizzo Environmental Services has been publicly named as the company at the center of an ongoing federal corruption investigation in Michigan, as reported by the Detroit Free Press.
Neither Rizzo nor any of its employees have been officially accused of any wrongdoing, though multiple elected officials have now been charged with various forms of bribery for allegedly helping the company secure contracts. Two of those officials, Christopher Craigmiles and Brett Harris, entered guilty pleas for bribery charges in federal court on Feb. 6. Both men accepted thousands of dollars in bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a Rizzo representative. They face multiple years in prison, though may get lighter sentences because of their cooperation with authorities.
Decisions on the three other local officials involved — Dean Reynolds, Clifford Freitas and Michael Lovelock — are still pending.
- Macomb Township, MI is reviewing its collection contract with Rizzo Environmental Services and may seek to terminate it early, as reported by The Detroit Free Press. This comes after a federal corruption investigation revealed a township trustee allegedly accepted bribe money to help Rizzo during the bidding process last year.
- Dean Reynolds, a trustee from Clinton Township who also allegedly accepted bribe money in exchange for favorable treatment during renewal negotiations, was indicted on eight counts of bribery by a grand jury on Nov. 3.
- Two candidates running to become public works commissioner in Macomb County have also returned or donated campaign contributions they received from the company or its executives, as reported by the Clinton Township Patch.
Rizzo has not been officially named or charged with any criminal wrongdoing but its potential involvement in these bribery cases has been bad for business. Chuck Rizzo Jr. resigned as CEO last week after details of the second incident were released and the news may have played a role in the company losing a contentious contract fight in the city of Flint.
Rizzo was acquired by GFL Environmental Inc. shortly before the news came out and the company said it had no knowledge of these issues beforehand. GFL has already begun repainting and rebranding Rizzo's trucks ahead of schedule. CEO Patrick Dovigi and other executives have spoken to about two-thirds of the affected communities and will meet with the rest shortly.
In an interview with Waste Dive this week, Dovigi said the transition was of course going differently than planned but GFL was still excited about the expansion. "The bottom line is we still bought a great company that has great assets that serves as a very good platform for us to grow," he said. "It's just some of the goodwill has been impacted just because of these allegations that have been made but ultimately we'll get through it."