Sanitation Salvage, a Bronx-based carting company run for decades by the wealthy and politically-connected Squitieri brothers, had its license suspended on Friday morning. The suspension comes after reports in ProPublica revealed a pattern of dangerous working conditions, and that one of its drivers killed a fellow worker and a pedestrian over a six month period of time.
“This company has demonstrated time and time again that they value profit over the lives of New Yorkers and the well-being of their workers," Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement announcing the suspension. "We are immediately suspending this company’s license following a pattern of unsafe practices.”
In a release, The Business Integrity Commission, which regulates the private carting industry, pointed to the deaths of 21-year-old Mouctar Diallo, who was an off the books Sanitation Salvage employee when he was killed last fall, and pedestrian Leo Clarke, who was killed this past April, as justification for the suspension. Both men were killed by driver Sean Spence. Earlier this month, the BIC barred Spence from driving carting trucks in the city, but no charges have been filed in either death, despite a ProPublica report revealing that Spence and the company tried to cover up Diallo's death by claiming he was a homeless person.
In a release, BIC also noted that "recent investigations of Sanitation Salvage by State and City enforcement agencies have revealed systemic safety issues, including excessive working hours and unsafe operating trucks."
On August 8, a Sanitation Salvage employee who did not have a driver's license swerved into oncoming traffic in the Bronx and hit a car. On Thursday night, according to the release, BIC investigators found that a Sanitation Salvage worker with a suspended license was driving a truck while their coworkers picked up a pizza.
Sanitation Salvage has four business days to appeal the suspension before the full BIC; Its 6,000 customers will be offered temporary collection by the Sanitation Department while they find a new carting company. The BIC will help their 87 employees find new jobs, according to the release.
A spokesperson for the company has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Bronx Councilmember Mark Gjonaj, who was elected last year and has taken over $16,000 in funds from carting companies since 2012, including nearly $10,000 from the Squitieris, defended Sanitation Salvage's record on NY1 last month.
While the Sanitation Department is expected to reveal a plan to consolidate the private carting industry into different zones, Councilmembers Gjonaj, Robert Cornegy Jr., and Barry Grodenchik, are pushing a bill that would essentially maintain the system as-is.
A spokesman for Gjonaj has not yet responded to our request for comment.
"Companies like Sanitation Salvage should not be doing business in this city, and BIC made the right decision to revoke their license," Sean Campbell, President of Teamsters Local 813, said in a statement.
"For years, private carters thought no one would hold them accountable and they would get away with dangerous practices. The next step is a commercial waste zone policy that will demand the highest standards of this industry, in which there are more companies like Sanitation Salvage," Campbell said.
Update: A spokesperson for Sanitation Salvage sent Gothamist this statement.
"The City’s decision to suspend the license of Sanitation Salvage prior to the conclusion of its investigation and without any prior notice or opportunity to be heard is both unlawful and misguided. Bowing to political pressure, the City rushed to judgment based on an incomplete and distorted factual record - one that ignores that the NYPD already concluded that these unfortunate accidents months ago were the result of pedestrian error. The City’s action not only threatens to put this family-owned Company’s more than 80 employees out of work, it also will cause imminent harm to the thousands of small-business customers in the Bronx and throughout New York City who have long depended on Sanitation Salvage to provide safe and cost-efficient waste carting services. Sanitation Salvage will pursue all legal remedies, as necessary, to reverse this gross abuse of government authority and violation of Sanitation Salvage's rights as a long-time licensee in good standing."