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October 14, 2019Cart

Business

by Westchester County Business Journal
by WCBJ

Joseph Spiezio’s trash company files for bankruptcy

Mount Vernon’s recently-fired, $1-a-year deputy police commissioner, Joseph F. Spiezio III, is seeking bankruptcy protection for his garbage-hauling business.

Waste Services Inc. of Mamaroneck filed a Chapter 11 petition on Feb. 13 in federal bankruptcy court in White Plains declaring nearly $5 million in assets and $7.6 million in liabilities.

Last year the company did $6.9 million in business, according to the bankruptcy petition, and the year before $10 million.

His garbage business has been embroiled in lawsuits and regulatory actions for several years that have resulted in large debts, and in January the company missed a $1,250,000 payment to the Teamsters retirement funds.

His decision to get into the waste-hauling business was a “mistake on multiple levels,” Spiezio said last month in an affidavit in a related dispute with the National Labor Relations Board, and “has been a continual source of aggravation.”

He got his foothold in the trash business in 2011, when his Pinnacle Equity Group loaned $850,000 to Rogan Brothers Sanitation Inc. When Rogan defaulted on the loan, according to Spiezio, he acquired some of its assets.

He formed R&S Waste Services, acquired Frontline Waste Management Corp. and merged the businesses under the Waste Services name.

The company operates as Competition Carting and has municipal contracts with Carmel, Pelham and Rye Brook. Last year, it lost a contract with Westchester County.

Until recently, it was headquartered in New Rochelle with several other Spiezio businesses.

The Teamsters’ retirement funds sued Spiezio and several of his companies last year for $4.2 million, based on alleged unpaid legal obligations going back to 2011. They claim Spiezio created companies to transfer assets and evade creditors. The case is pending in federal court in White Plains.

The bankruptcy petition lists the retirement funds debt as $1,550,000.

The National Labor Relations Board filed an action in federal court last year against Waste Services, R&S Waste Services and Spiezio’s payroll firm, ECSI America Inc. The NLRB asked for a writ of attachment on 35 garbage trucks, to cover $673,211 in unpaid judgments.

The agency had won judgments against Rogan Brothers and R&S Waste, for unlawful firing of five employees. In the new lawsuit, the NLRB claims that Spiezio operates several companies as one enterprise.

“The Waste Services/ECSI enterprise was created as a disguised continuance of R&S Waste, in order to evade R&S Waste’s liability,” the agency claims.

Spiezio states in an affidavit that his companies have never dissipated or concealed assets and that they have no intention of evading liability.

He implied that the NLRB is taking sides with the Teamsters, over the union that represents his employees, the International Union of Journeyman and Allied Trades.

“My companies are being targeted because we refuse to play ball,” Spiezio stated, “and because we were instrumental in bringing a financially solvent, honest union into Westchester County.”

Spiezio has also been in a spotlight as deputy police commissioner in Mount Vernon. He had supported Mayor Richard Thomas for election in 2015 and was given the position despite having no law enforcement background.

He was arrested in New Rochelle on Feb. 3, for driving with a suspended license and using the siren on his city-issued SUV to get around traffic. He was put on administrative leave and then fired.

The day after the bankruptcy petition was filed, a federal judge in Manhattan denied the NLRB’s request for a writ of attachment but granted a protective order barring the companies from transferring assets while the case is pending.

Spiezio states in a declaration that Waste Services intends to use Chapter 11 protection to “maximize the value of its assets.”

Soon, he said, he will try to sell a portion of the assets to Oak Ridge Waste and Recycling Services of CT, “and eventually negotiate further sales and to retire from the industry.”