LOS ANGELES, JUNE 9 -- The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office today filed felony antitrust charges against the California branch of the nation's largest solid waste treatment and disposal company.
Waste Management of California Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Waste Management Inc. of Oak Brook, Ill., two other trash hauling companies and five individuals were charged with fixing prices in Los Angeles County since 1982.
The other companies named in the criminal complaint are Western Waste Industries Inc., with sales of about $70 million in 1986, and Angelus Hudson Inc., a privately held company with annual sales of about $2 million.
The individual defendants are Clifford R. Chamblee, 63, former general manager for Waste Management of Gardena; Wiley A. Scott Jr., 32, operations manager for Waste Management of Sun Valley; George Osepian, 68, a vice president of Western Waste Industries; Ishkan Gordian, 42, sales manager at Western Waste Industries, and John Marderosian, 54, former district manager with System Disposal Service.
The criminal complaint, brought under state law, accuses the defendants of "dividing the market for commercial solid waste disposal services among competitors and fixing prices for those services among competitors."
Los Angeles County District Attorney Ira Reiner said that 11 federal grand juries nationwide are investigating price fixing among waste disposal firms, including Waste Management Inc. Reiner said, however, that his investigation, which began about 18 months ago, is not linked to any federal efforts.
At a press conference this morning, Reiner accused the defendants of operating a "covert cartel." He described direct collusion among trash hauling firms to stay away from each other's customers and said that if a client tried to switch to a different trash hauling company, he would be quoted a "high ball" price, higher than the fee he was already paying, to discourage him from switching.