Glutton for punishment: City slapped notorious private hauler with hundreds of criminal and other infractions, records show

Driven to death: Carting company’s overworking and law skirting leads to fatal accidents, workers claim
Community News Group / Julianne Cuba

Authorities since 2012 dealt roughly 2,000 violations — hundreds of which were criminal — to the private-carting company with a history of recklessness at the wheel that the city pays millions in taxpayer dollars to haul trash, records show.

Most of the 1,998 penalties officials issued to New Jersey–based Action Carting — which raked in $104,286,930 from contracts with the city over the past decade, during which its truckers hit and killed five people — are for employees blowing red lights, driving in bike lanes, and pumping the gas in school zones, where some drivers are allegedly known to fall asleep at the wheel as kids are walking to class, according to workers.

And 342 of the infractions were for unspecified criminal violations, which often require a court appearance along with paying a cash fine, according to the records from Jan. 8, 2012 through March 20, 2018, which the Brooklyn Paper obtained via a Freedom of Information Law request.

But mysteriously absent from the citations is the summons cops said they handed to the Action driver who hit and killed cyclist Neftaly Ramirez in Greenpoint last July. Authorities claimed to slap now-retired trucker Jose Nunez with a violation for driving his massive big-rig without the proper license on Nov. 10, 2017 — almost four months after he fatally plowed into the 27-year-old — but none exists within the nearly 60 pages’ worth of records.

A Police Department legal-bureau spokesman couldn’t explain the absence of the summons, instead only noting that none of the total 4,209 moving violations and criminal-court summonses that city officers issued on Nov. 10, 2017 were made out to Nunez.

Also missing from the list of hundreds of Action-perpetrated violations this newspaper received are 27 criminal summonses that officials dealt to the firm on Feb. 8, 2018, which this reporter instead discovered when searching the state court system’s online public records.

Police spokesman Sergeant Jordan Mazur again could not explain why those violations weren’t included among the others. And a state-court rep also couldn’t explain why they were not among the received records, saying the glut of same-day infractions could either be the result of a municipal employee incorrectly entering them all on the date in question, or of an Action-facility inspection on that day.

A spokeswoman for the garbage company did not respond when asked if any of its facilities were inspected on Feb. 8, 2018.

Action Carting only increased its rule-breaking over the years, according to the records, which show that authorities issued its drivers just 26 criminal summonses in 2012, but more than 90 in 2016 and 2017 each. There are no 2018 criminal summonses listed in the documents.

And the company’s other violations similarly increase in frequency. In 2012, Action received 182 so-called “A-summonses” for minor infractions such as double parking, compared to 275 in 2017, according to the records, which show the business racked up 41 through mid March of this year.

But the malfeasant firm isn’t the only one whose workers’ carelessness results in casualties — the number of crashes caused by drivers for the city’s 20 most-active private-carting companies totaled 67 since March 2016, up from 35 between March 2014 and February 2016, according to a report released Monday by several organizations working to reform the notoriously dangerous industry, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Transportation Alternatives Alliance for The Alliance for a Greater New York, and Transform Don’t Trash NYC.

Five of the 67 collisions that occurred since March 2016 were fatal, and two of the 35 that happened between March 2014 and February 2016 resulted in deaths, according to the survey — which shows that city sanitation employees have not killed anyone while behind the wheel since 2014.

And officials banished more than half of the trucks belonging to the city’s 20 most-active private carters from local streets since 2016, after those vehicles failed federal inspections, the report shows.

Action Carting’s hundreds of violations, however, are below the industry average, according to its spokeswoman, who said company bigwigs are working to cultivate a less-hazardous culture by implementing weekly safety sessions and modernizing its fleet with upgrades including the installation of protective “bike guards” beneath its trucks that block pedestrians from rolling under them.

A rep for Mayor DeBlasio again did not respond to a request for comment about why the city continues to conduct business with Action Carting despite its history of deadly crashes and violating traffic laws.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.