Deck the Halls With Waste and Folly

Just don't ask too many questions about a sweetheart trash contract in Florida's most complacent city

Indeed, All Service executives and lobbyists seem to go above and beyond the call of duty.

On condition of anonymity, a source claiming close ties to the trash-hauling industry provided New Times with what he called an invoice. It was undated and signed by a former All Service manager, listing several registered lobbyists and next to each name was a dollar figure. Alongside the name Feren was the figure $50,000.

C. Katz
Two relatives of Commissioner Joseph Scuotto  have landed jobs at All Service since he took office.
Two relatives of Commissioner Joseph Scuotto have landed jobs at All Service since he took office.

It was a payment, alleged the source, made by All Service to Feren in exchange for his lobbying services. It occurred in 1996, the same year he returned to the Sunrise City Commission.

Feren did not respond to several messages and e-mails inquiring about the $50,000 — whether he received it and, if so, when he did so and what he provided in exchange. It is not clear from the invoice whether the payment represented a debt for services already performed or for those he might perform in the future.

All Service spokesman Flower gave this response to questions about the relationship between his company and Feren: "Thus far, we have determined that Steve Feren was engaged by former managers at All Service in 1996. I believe his engagement for services was prior to his appointment on the Sunrise City Council in late 1996. He has not been engaged by All Service since he has served as an official in the City of Sunrise." As of this week, Flower said All Service had not yet located records that specified the services Feren provided to the firm.

Florida law bars a public official from accepting private payments from companies that stand to benefit from that official's past or future decisions.

Scuotto's ties to All Service are more personal. As recently as 2000, his private catering company, Scuotto Coney Island Treats, ran company picnics for All Service employees, according to multiple sources who attended the picnics. Flower also confirmed this business relationship but refused to say how many events Scuotto's firm hosted for All Service, nor would he say when the most recent event took place.

Two relatives — a brother and a nephew — have landed jobs at All Service since Scuotto's election to the commission. Flower says that brother Michael Scuotto started his employment in February 2004 and that nephew Nick Marziliano started in January 2004. But a source close to the Sunrise garbage industry told New Times that both started work before 2004.

Joey Scuotto had been casting votes on the All Service contract up until 2004, and if his relatives were employed there, he was obligated to recuse himself and file conflict-of-interest documents.

Michael Scuotto did not return calls to his Sunrise home. Marziliano, who is All Service area manager, was reached on his cell phone, but he refused to tell a reporter when he started working at the company. "You'll have to ask All Service about that," Marziliano said, and then the line went dead.

Multiple sources with knowledge of the Sunrise garbage business say that Joey Scuotto is a close friend of John Ferguson, who until recently was area president of All Service, overseeing its entire South Florida operation.

Indeed, one source close to the city's trash industry showed a New Times reporter a video, with dates from January 2002, that showed Scuotto cavorting with Ferguson and other All Services executives high in the mountains of Montana. They're shown joking around at a ski lodge dinner, climbing onto horses, and snowmobiling through picturesque portions of Yellowstone National Park.

When asked if the company paid Scuotto's expenses, Flower said, "We have no information that would indicate that any employees of All Service took any Sunrise public officials on vacation trips or paid for vacation trips."

Only two months before the dates on the Montana video, Joey Scuotto had cast votes in support of the All Service contract — another apparent violation of state law.

There is also some mystery surrounding Scuotto's past work with a small waste company called 3 Js. In financial disclosure forms, Scuotto lists the company in the category reserved for those in which he has an ownership interest. In the company's filings with the state, it does not list Scuotto as an officer. It lists only the names of a husband and wife, John and Janice Lembo. Reached at her Fort Lauderdale home, Janice Lembo refused to grant an interview, explaining that the company was to be sold anyway. She would not say to whom. And in a subsequent conversation, she denied even that.

"No, I didn't give you any information, sir," Lembo said. "And I won't give you any information, so don't try to get it out of me now." Then she hung up the phone.

Like Feren, Scuotto did not respond to phone calls and e-mails requesting more information about his relationship with Ferguson, the manner in which his relatives landed jobs at All Service, or whether 3 Js has ever worked with the city directly or as a subcontractor with All Service. The Sunrise Finance Department reported finding no disbursements by the city to 3 Js, and All Service claimed that it had no record of ever having paid the company.

John Ferguson is certainly qualified to shed light on the subject. But after he was reached on his cell phone, Ferguson said, "I'm not in the garbage business anymore." Then he hung up.

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