A federal judge today sentenced a former Department of Public Works (DPW) employee to two years in prison in connection with a longstanding bribery and theft scheme that has so far netted four city employees and six commercial trash haulers.
From when he was hired in 2005 until May 2015, Jarrod Terrell Hazelton, of Parkville, was a leader of a group of DPW workers who illegally collected and sold scrap metal at Quarantine Road Landfill and the Northwest Transfer Station, according to a plea agreement presented to U.S. District Court Judge Marvin J. Garbis.
Hazelton alone stole about $400,000 worth of steel cables, copper wires, computer parts, household appliances and window and door frames – with the equivalent loss of revenue to the city, according to prosecutors.
Judge Garbis ordered the 33-year-old to pay restitution of that amount after he finishes his prison term followed by three years of supervised release.
Millions in Lost Revenues
Altogether, the illegal activities uncovered at the landfills cost Baltimore City nearly $7 million in lost revenues, prosecutors say.
In the case of cash bribes to scale cashiers at Quarantine Road, the money was buried in paper bags and even stuffed in empty gum wrappers.
Trash haulers also arranged pickups of bribe money by DPW workers in parking lots around the city and county.
FROM BREW ARCHIVES: How the schemes worked
Hazelton used some of the proceeds of the stolen metal to pay his colleagues to help him locate, set aside, collect and load the scrap metal onto his truck, prosecutors said.
He and other employees used their personal cell phones to communicate when and where recyclable scrap metal was being dumped at the landfills and often made multiple trips during work hours to an unnamed salvage company.
Former landfill employees Michael T. Bennett and Tamara Washington, as well as supervisor William C. Nemec Sr., have pleaded guilty to their roles in the corruption schemes.
Now in federal prison, Nemec admitted to prosecutors that he accepted bribes for three decades since he started in 1984 as a scalehouse cashier at the Cold Spring Lane Landfill.
Five commercial trash haulers have pleaded guilty and a sixth hauler has been convicted by a federal jury of bribing city workers at Quarantine Road to avoid paying a city fee for dumping their trash.