Republic Waste investigation update

October 1, 2008 9:41:12 PM PDT
On a night the federal government is talking bailout, Houston taxpayers are getting a tax windfall thanks to an investigation by 13 Undercover of Republic Waste, the company that used to pick up much of the city's trash. It was an investigation that had a foul odor for more than obvious reason.

13 Undercover followed the trail of trash with hidden cameras and proved Republic Waste was charging Houston taxpayers for trash it picked up outside the city.

"We're going to throw the book at them," said Mayor Bill White at the time. "I don't like it when contractors rip off the city."

The company agreed to pay the city $2 million to settle the issue.

But it was our discovery of suspicious Social Security numbers on dozens of Republic workers that led to an immigration raid in January 2007.

Some workers listed Social Security numbers that belonged to dead people. We traced one Social Security number to its real and very alive owner.

"It scared me, I was really afraid," said victim Kathleen Diesel.

Since then, Republic has been cooperating with a federal investigation into allegations of conspiracy to commit mail fraud and immigration violations. Republic confirms 28 illegal workers were found and Wednesday inked an agreement with the federal government to avoid criminal prosecution.

The price tag was $3 million. Two million dollars will go to the city's recycling program.

Republic Waste Corporate Vice President Will Flowers issued a statement fully available on abc13.com.

In it, he pointed out Republic cooperated fully during every aspect of the investigation. Republic was not charged with and did not plea to any offense.

It's the final chapter in a 13 Undercover investigation that first aired three years ago. The bottom line, our reporting stopped the apparent rip-off of Houston taxpayers. That has resulted in a total of $5 million back to taxpayers.

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