MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. (WJBK) - The head of Rizzo Environmental Services has stepped down amid a federal investigation into public officials in Macomb County.
Chuck Rizzo Jr. announced his resignation from the company that bears his name on Tuesday as the federal probe into the county continues.
GFL Environmental Inc. President and CEO Patrick Dovigi announced Rizzo's resignation in this statement:
"The allegations surrounding Rizzo Environmental's potential involvement in the FBI's investigation were first brought to our attention following local press reports which speculated that a principal at Rizzo had made cash payments to Dean Reynolds in connection with a Clinton Township contract. These allegations, which reportedly occurred in late 2012 through 2015, predate GFL's acquisition of Rizzo last month. We had no prior knowledge of the FBI's investigation or the allegations associated with elected officials in Macomb County, Michigan.
Upon learning of the situation, we immediately began the process of conducting our own internal investigation to better understand the facts. While our review is ongoing, the allegations that have been presented in two Federal criminal complaints are completely counter to the way we that GFL does business. Adhering to the highest ethical policies and conducting our business with the utmost integrity are among GFL's most important priorities. We are outraged by the allegations that have been reported and have zero tolerance for employee misconduct or unprofessional behavior.
Therefore, in the best interests of the company and our customers, Chuck Rizzo, Jr. has resigned, effective immediately. I will oversee Rizzo's business on an interim basis until further notice.
We are committed to providing the highest quality waste collection and recycling services to commercial, municipal and industrial customers while following only the highest legal and ethical standards."
Rizzo's resignation comes the same day that a Macomb Township trustee was charged by federal officials with demanding and taking bribes for votes. Clifford Freitas charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, including demanding and accepting money in exchange for official acts as a Trustee on Tuesday.
Freitas refused to speak with FOX 2 after his appearance in federal court. The trustee was charged with demanding and taking bribes from Rizzo in exchange for securing their waste disposal contract with Macomb Township. Freitas also worked for Rizzo at the time.
He's accused of accepting almost $45,000 in bribes, much of it caught on tapped phone lines and video.
Freitas and his attorney declined to comment, but his family said they're stunned. To some, the culture of alleged corruption is no surprise.
Just two weeks ago, Clinton Township trustee Dean Reynolds faced similar charges in a similar scheme with Rizzo. The U.S. Attorney says this is just part of an ongoing investigation.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel says people complain to him all the time about officials and how they use their office.
"Officials using their office for their own personal gain or their own - if you will - purpsoses as opposed to for the public good. Nobody wants to do anything here, they're afraid," Hackel said. "I have passed on some individuals and information and the reason for it is because it's unacceptable."
The new owners of Rizzo, GFL Environmental, also called it unacceptable in accepting Rizzo's resignation.
More charges are expected to be filed against government officials. The FBI encourages anyone with information on corruption to contact their tip line.