FBI probe puts Rizzo contracts in jeopardy
Metro Detroit municipalities looking to award contracts for trash services this month are thinking twice about Rizzo Environmental Services, which is at the center of an FBI corruption probe.
Rizzo, which is one of the largest and most popular trash-hauling companies in the region, has been linked to a bribery case involving Clinton Township Trustee Dean Reynolds. Reynolds is accused of taking bribes in exchange for his vote on municipal contracts since 2012.
The company said last week it is cooperating with the FBI investigation into systemic corruption in several municipalities in southeast Michigan, mostly in Macomb County. The federal court affidavit that recommended charges against Reynolds said he allegedly took bribes from an employee of Company A. No charges were recommended for Company A.
Although the U.S. Attorney’s Office wouldn’t name the company in the affidavit, Clinton Township Supervisor Robert Cannon said he believes the company is Rizzo.
Huron Township officials say they voted Wednesday to rescind their decision last week to award a waste contract to Rizzo.
Trustee R.P. Lilly said the board of of trustees was concerned about getting involved with the company during a federal probe.
“If that is a fact and if it is accurate, I don’t like the idea of doing business with someone that’s involved in illegal activity,” Lilly said.
He added Rizzo representatives who attended the meeting Wednesday told the board the company was not involved with any public corruption.
The township will send out another request for proposals and restart the bidding process, Lilly said. Waste Management, which lost the initial bid to Rizzo, handles the township’s trash services and will work on an extended contract, he said.
Rizzo hauls trash in more than 40 communities in southeast Michigan and has recycling facilities in lower Michigan and northern Ohio.
Dearborn Heights voted Aug. 23 to accept a bid from Rizzo for trash pickup.
Councilwoman Lisa Hicks Clayton said the council is expected to vote next week on awarding a $24 million, eight-year contract to Rizzo.
The City Council held a study session, attended by Rizzo representatives, Tuesday night to discuss concerns with the company, including the FBI investigation.
Clayton said she worries about how the company might be affected if Rizzo were to be involved in corruption.
“Yes, there is concern and flags are raised when these types of stories break in the news,” Clayton said. “Certainly we want to do business with the most reputable and reliable company. This is our taxpayers’ dollars we are talking about.”
Dearborn Heights’ contract with Waste Management ends Oct. 31, Clayton said, so the city needs to make a quick decision.
Richmond Township in Macomb County accepted a bid from Rizzo for waste services on Wednesday night.
The board of trustees voted unanimously for Rizzo which competed for a contract against Waste Management— the township’s current trash pickup provider.
Township supervisor Cindy Greenia said it was a tough decision given the FBI investigation. However, she said she believed Rizzo was offering more services for less money.
“Certainly you’re concerned,” Greenia said. “But those are allegations, they have not been proven.”
Richmond Township’s contract with Waste Management ends Dec. 31. The contract with Rizzo will likely be for four years, Greenia said.
Trustee Christopher DeVos said he also had reservations about Rizzo but believed they were a better choice for the community.
“There’s also a concerning part in me that thinks, should we enter into this (contract) right now?” DeVos said. “But anything that would come out of (the investigation) would have nothing to do with Richmond Township.”