Final Defendant Pleads Guilty in Federal Court in Two Separate Schemes to Defraud the City of Baltimore
City Lost Over $7 Million in Two Longstanding Schemes in Which Commercial Trash Haulers Paid Bribes to Dump Trash Without Paying Disposal Fees and Employees Stole Salvageable Metals
Baltimore, Maryland – Charles Dennis Bolden, Sr., age 69, of Baltimore, a former employee at the Quarantine Road Landfill (Landfill), pleaded guilty today to conspiring to commit two separate criminal schemes: one in which Department of Public Works (DPW) employees sought and accepted cash payments from commercial haulers in return for allowing the haulers to deposit trash at the Landfill without paying the required disposal fees (extortion scheme); and a second scheme in which DPW employees stole scrap metal from the Landfill for personal gain (the junking scheme).
Bolden is the last of 12 defendants to be convicted. Six Baltimore City Department of Public Works (DPW) employees and six commercial trash haulers were charged in federal court with conspiracy and other charges, including bribery, extortion and theft. Bolden was one of the two DPW employees charged in both schemes. All 12 defendants have been convicted.
The conviction was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Kevin Perkins of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; Robert H. Pearre, Jr., Inspector General, City of Baltimore Office of Inspector General; Special Agent in Charge Thomas Jankowski of the Internal Revenue Service - Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; and Colonel William M. Pallozzi, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
Individuals or companies commercially hauling trash that have registered their vehicles with Baltimore City and obtained Landfill permits, as well as Baltimore City residents with larger loads, must deposit their trash in an open area located within the Landfill. Commercial haulers of trash that meet certain vehicle weight limitations must, in addition to purchasing a Landfill permit, pay a waste disposal fee of $67.50 per ton of trash deposited at the Landfill. DPW employees assigned as scale house operators weigh each truck as it enters the Landfill, which is recorded on a computerized point-of-sale system. The scale house operators reweigh each truck as it leaves the Landfill.
Baltimore City residents can deposit small amounts of trash and/or recyclables in dumpsters at the Convenience Center located near the main entrance of the Landfill, free of charge. Individuals or companies commercially hauling trash that have registered their vehicles with the City and obtained Landfill permits, as well as Baltimore City residents with larger loads, must deposit their trash in an open area located further within the Landfill. Commercial haulers of trash that meet certain vehicle weight limitations must, in addition to purchasing a Landfill permit, pay a waste disposal fee of $67.50 per ton of trash, also referred to as a “tipping fee.” The disposal fee applies to the net weight of the trash deposited at the Landfill.
Bolden pleaded guilty today to both indictments charging him in the two schemes. According to the statement of facts presented by the government to the court, Bolden, who was employed by DPW as a laborer at the Landfill, and other DPW employees sought and accepted cash payments from commercial haulers in return for allowing the commercial haulers to deposit trash at the Landfill without paying the required disposal fees.
On August 28, 2013, an FBI confidential source (CS) went to the Convenience Center and spoke with Bolden about the cost of dumping a truckload of trash at the Landfill. Bolden told CS that he and his “girls” at the scale house would have to be paid a “fair” amount of money in order for CS to avoid paying the required disposal fee assessed at the scale house. When CS agreed to make the payment, Bolden said that the scale house “girl gonna waive you thru.”
The next day, Latonya Drinkard, a scale house operator, waived CS past the scale house and allowed him to dump his truckload of trash without paying the required fee. Afterwards, CS paid Bolden $70 in cash, which Bolden explained was a lot less than what he and the scale house “girls” have charged others. On September 12, 2013 and October 9, 2013, Drinkard allowed CS to dump two more truckloads of trash without paying the required disposal fee. Bolden charged CS $200 for each truckload.
During a recorded conversation on October 17, 2013, Drinkard asked the CS how much Bolden was charging CS. Upon learning that it was $200 per trip, the scale house operator agreed to waive the disposal fee for less money without Bolden’s involvement and stated, “Just call and let me know whenever you want to come in and I got you.”
Illegal Junking Scheme
In addition to the revenue generated by the collection of disposal fees, Baltimore City’s waste management system generates revenue by collecting and selling recyclable scrap metal dumped at the City’s trash collection facilities, including household appliances, steel cables, copper wires, car parts, computer parts, door and window frames. The City awards contracts to private salvage companies to purchase and remove such scrap metal from its trash collection facilities.
DPW employees at the Landfill and other trash collection sites are required to segregate the recyclable scrap metal from general refuse and place it in separate bins provided by the salvage companies. The companies regularly pick up the scrap metal, weigh it and send a tonnage report to the City. Based on predetermined prices per ton, the City sends an invoice to the companies requesting payment for the value of the scrap metal the companies removed during a given period of time. Salvaging by employees, also referred to as “junking,” was strictly prohibited and employees were put on notice that any salvaging of metal constituted theft of City property.
According to the statement of facts presented by the government to the court, from 2005 to May 2015, Bolden and other Landfill employees falsely represented to the DPW that they were performing the jobs for which they were hired when, in fact, they used their paid positions during work hours to unlawfully collect, remove and sell scrap metal for personal gain.
Bolden and other laborers used their personal cell phones to communicate when and where recyclable scrap metals were being dumped at the Landfill. After creating piles of the scrap metal at various locations at the Landfill, the laborers would then use their personal pick-up trucks to collect the scrap metal and transport it from the Landfill to a private salvage company, frequently making multiple trips during a single, eight-hour work shift.
For most of the period, Bolden oversaw operations at the Convenience Center where residential trash was dumped. Video recordings documented Bolden’s use of a front-end loader to separate salvageable metal from the general trash bins. After setting aside a sufficient amount of such metal, Bolden would use his cell phone to contact other laborers, including Jarrod Hazelton and Michael Bennett, to pick up what he had collected. Telephonic intercepts revealed a daily pattern of phone calls wherein Bolden notified other employees that he had collected various types of salvageable metal that he was ready to load onto their trucks. Video footage showed Bolden helping to load the salvageable metals onto other employees’ pick-up trucks as well as his own. Those employees, in turn, would sell the metal to salvage companies and share the proceeds of the sales with Bolden. Sometimes the other laborers would meet with Bolden after hours to pick up his stolen metal and pay him.
The scrap metal that Bolden, Hazelton, Bennett and others stole and sold to private salvage companies resulted in a loss of revenue to the City totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In addition, video footage established that Bolden and other employees spent a significant part of almost every workday coordinating the search and collection of salvageable metals to steal. Nonetheless, Bolden and other employees regularly signed and submitted daily time and attendance sheets falsely reflecting that they had fulfilled the hourly requirements of their respective paid positions when, in fact, they were routinely engaged in unauthorized “junking.” As a result, Bolden received hourly wages every pay period for work he did not perform on behalf of the City. More specifically, for calendar years 2013 and 2014, Bolden stole and conspired to steal salvageable metals and unearned wages from Baltimore City totaling more than $5,000 per year.
Bolden faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison for conspiracy, 20 years in prison for extortion; and 10 years in prison for theft from a government program. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis has scheduled sentencing for August 23, 2016, at 9:30 a.m.
Former DPW employees Tamara Oliver Washington, age 55; William Charles Nemec, Sr., age 56; and Michael Theodore Bennett, age 47; Latonya Drinkard, age 39, all of Baltimore, and Jarrod Terrell Hazelton, age 33, of Parkville, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to their roles in the schemes. Nemec was sentenced to 78 months in prison, Bennett to 46 months in prison and Hazelton to two years in prison. U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis also ordered Bennett and Hazelton to each pay restitution of $400,000. Washington and Drinkard are scheduled to be sentenced on August 12 and October 13, 2016.
Commercial trash hauler, John Howard Brady, age 74, was convicted by a federal jury in the bribery scheme, and is scheduled to be sentenced on July 22, 2016. The five remaining commercial trash haulers pleaded guilty to their participation in the bribery scheme. Quentin Turgot Glenn, age 50, of Hanover, Maryland, who owned and operated Glenn Services, LLC, a trash hauling business, was sentenced to three years in prison. Jessie Lee Wilson, Jr., age 41, of Baltimore, who was employed by Glenn Services as a truck driver, to three years of probation, with the first year to be spent in community confinement. Adam Williams, Jr., age 53, of Randallstown, was sentenced to one year in prison; and Larry Lowry, age 61, of Orchard Beach, Maryland, to 30 months in prison. Judge Garbis also ordered that Glenn pay restitution of $306,000; Williams pay restitution of $900,000; and Lowry pay restitution of $180,000. Mustafa Sharif, age 64, of Baltimore, awaits sentencing.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein praised the FBI, IRS-CI, Baltimore Office of Inspector General and Maryland State Police for their work in the investigation. Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Martin J. Clarke and Leo J. Wise, who are prosecuting the cases.