County signs new deals on trash hauling Contracts were given to companies in Oct. without competition

County may save $1 million

Indicted hauler's kin essentially inherited business last month

November 27, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County taxpayers could save $1 million as a result of County Executive John G. Gary's decision to reissue three contracts awarded without bids last month to relatives of indicted trash hauler Michael A. Gunther.

The Gary administration said yesterday that it has awarded county work worth nearly $589,000 a year to three trash-hauling companies after expedited competitive bidding and an unprecedented financial disclosure procedure.

The largest contract -- $271,534 a year -- was given to MBG Enterprises, a Hanover company, owned by Matthew B. Gunther.

"They [MBG] came in with a responsive, responsible bid," said Lisa Ritter, Gary's spokeswoman. "The key is that these were competitively bid and will result in substantial savings to taxpayers."

Two other contracts, worth a combined $317,450, were awarded to C. S. Faulkner and Countywide Trash Removal. Ritter said that by reissuing the contracts, which can be extended for four years, the county will save $255,786 annually.

MBG Enterprises was at the center of controversy last month after essentially inheriting the lucrative work from Greater Baltimore Hauling, which is owned by Matthew Gunther's older brother, Michael.

MBG Enterprises, which is adjacent to the Greater Baltimore Hauling yard on Shipley Avenue, was using GBH trucks and staff to service the routes.

In the past month, a county grand jury has indicted Michael Gunther, Donald E. Warrener, five companies and two former landfill scale operators in an alleged bribery ring at the Millersville landfill. The alleged scheme, which operated from January 1992 through June 1995, could have cost Anne Arundel taxpayers $5 million, prosecutors say.

Investigators are trying to determine whether trash haulers, whom the county pays $8.8 million a year for residential trash and yard waste pickup, bribed scale operators to enter lower weights for trucks carrying commercial garbage. Haulers are supposed to pay $60 per ton of commercial trash dumped at the Millersville site, Anne Arundel's only sanitary landfill.

Gary moved quickly last month to rebid the trash-hauling work after The Sun reported that contracts worth more than $300,000 a year had been given to Michael Gunther's relatives without being advertised for bid because of time constraints.

The county stripped the contracts from Michael Gunther's company, Greater Baltimore Hauling, after his indictment. GBH sued the county unsuccessfully to keep the contracts, pending a ruling on the indictment.

On Oct. 23, two county contracts worth $218,000 were awarded to MBG Enterprises. A third, for $88,184, was awarded to Charles A. Gunther, Michael's cousin who owns Al's Trash.

The contracts were awarded at the direction of Donald I. Kemp, a supervisor in Anne Arundel's waste management department.

A county grand jury indicted Kemp's daughter, Jennifer Allison, in October on charges that she accepted bribes while a scale operator at the landfill.

Deborah Lee, a second scale operator, was indicted this month on eight counts of bribery, theft and conspiracy. If convicted, Allison and Lee could be sentenced to 50 years in prison.

After learning the contracts had been awarded without bids to Michael Gunther's relatives, Gary decided that the contracts should be decided with bids.

In awarding the trash contracts, Ritter said the Gary administration "took the unusual step" of asking the three companies to sign sworn affidavits disclosing any stake in the indicted firms -- Greater Baltimore Hauling, Allied Refuse, Millersville Roofing and Guttering, and Don's Trash and D&J Hauling, both owned by Warrener.

Ritter acknowledged that the unprecedented disclosure was a nod to public relations in order to ensure that errors committed last month were not repeated.

Kemp was not involved in the bidding.

Ritter said Matthew Gunther declared in the affidavit that he has no financial stake in Greater Baltimore Hauling. He stated that he recently purchased trucks from the company to handle the routes.

"If they are separate companies, you have to look at them individually," said Councilman James E. DeGrange, a Glen Burnie Democrat. "I certainly think they will be scrutinized more closely than they have been in the past."

Pub Date: 11/27/96

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