Garbage company owner's past in NYC questioned

Long-time waste company owner Anthony Lomangino wants to win Broward County's massive garbage contract.

Lomangino, who now owns Southern Waste Systems and Sun Recycling, has partnered with politically-connected developer Ron Bergeron to form a new company called Sun Bergeron. The company has been recommended as the top bidder in a key contract with Miramar and has a team of lobbyists -- including George Platt, Bernie Friedman, and Bergeron's girlfriend, Ali Waldman -- trying to convince the county to break the stronghold Waste Management has had on the local business for years.

Last week, though, Broward County commissioners received an anonymous packet with newspaper stories about something Lomangino would likely rather forget -- his exit from the New York City waste business in 1997.

When a news photographer and I went to a Sun recycling plant to shoot video, a foreman came out and said we weren't allowed to "take pictures" of the plant. When asked why, he said, "Because I said so," then he grabbed the camera. When I tried to push him away, he grabbed the microphone and ultimately took it with him back on the plant property. A BSO deputy returned the microphone and we chose not to press charges against the foreman, who apologized. You can see the confrontation in the video above. The foreman said he didn't know why we were there and thought we were there in connection to another dispute with the plant.

The reports in the packet were about a major criminal investigation of a Mob-controlled cartel that controlled the NYC trash hauling business. Lomangino, along with several brothers, had been in the NYC carting business for decades and at that time was running one of the largest waste companies in the city, Allied Sanitation.

Lomangino was not indicted in the landmark case, which ended with the conviction of numerous garbage executives and 23 companies, but his name came up in news reports. From a 1996 article in Fortune magazine:

[L]aw enforcement sources say they don't believe Allied could have grown so large without playing by the cartel's rules of price-fixing and property rights. Until last year Allied was a member of the now-indicted Queens County Trade Waste Association, where bids were rigged and payments allegedly extorted. Since then Allied's parent has tried to cash out by going public, but no major Wall Street house would do the deal.

One former New York city official was quoted in Crain's Business New York as saying Lomangino had "one foot in and one foot out" of the cartel. That Fortune article describes a Wendy's restaurant franchisee called Wenco getting bids from six companies for trash-hauling services. All six companies gave the company the exact same price: $2,706 a month, according to a Wenco official named Kevin Woodside. "The owners of five of those six carting firms have been indicted," Fortune reported. "The sixth carter is Allied. 'These guys have been in bed together so long that they're bound to have caught each other's crab lice,' says Woodside."

Lomangino ultimately sold the company, which he renamed ReSource NE, to Waste Management, which retained his services. But when Waste Management tried to obtain a license to do business in New York, it was denied due to Lomangino's continued involvement, according to the press reports. The commission had the right to deny licenses based on "good character, honesty, and integrity." Waste News, quoting a "well-informed source," reported that "the city's Trade Waste Commission is forcing Anthony Lomangino ... out of the local industry."

Ultimately Lomangino left his position at Waste Management -- and the New York garbage industry -- as a result. Lomangino wouldn't be interviewed for this story, but a spokesman said that Lomangino was "never told by any official body that he couldn't have a license in New York." The spokesman said Lomangino was informed that the city was excluding him for a license by Waste Management. Sun/Bergeron also put out a statement saying, "The anonymous effort to smear Sun Bergeron supports the worthiness of its plan to save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars."

Lomangino's company has had various contracts with Broward County since 2001 and has racked up over $400,000 in fines for violations including improper dumping (some of it in sensitive wetlands), licensure problems, and excessive dust, according to county records.  

Commissioner Sue Gunzburger said the information "concerned" her and that she wants to know more about Lomangino. Chip LaMarca, who received the packet at his home address, had the same sentiment, noting that he wants to know as much as possible about all companies vying for the county's garbage contract which he noted was worth billions of taxpayers' dollars.

"I think we put our best foot forward to hire someone with a good reputation [and] that's definitely not what we want to see," said LaMarca.