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Sep 24, 2010 11:25 AM

Garbage Raid

GRETNA, La. (AP) - Federal agents have raided the offices of a
landfill that landed a questioned $160 million contract for garbage
disposal in Jefferson Parish last year.
FBI agents seized documents and issued subpoenas at the
headquarters of River Birch Landfill on Thursday.
In June 2009, River Birch landed a 25-year contract worth at
least $6.4 million a year to dispose of parish garbage at its
Waggaman landfill, a deal that required the parish to close its
neighboring dump.
The contract came under scrutiny late last year after
revelations that River Birch had a health insurance contract with
the wife of Tim Whitmer, a top aide to Parish President Aaron who
played a key role in setting up the landfill deal.
Both Broussard and Whitmer, whose private insurance agency did
business with parish contractors, resigned in January. Former
Parish Attorney Tom Wilkinson, who negotiated the landfill
contract, resigned in March.
River Birch officials said they were disappointed by the raid.
"We have been open and cooperative with the authorities from
the beginning. We have offered to provide any additional
information and any and all records," the company said in a
written statement. "We are disappointed that the government
elected to proceed in this fashion. At the end of the day, we are
confident, our good name will be vindicated."
Federal grand jury subpoenas were issued in connection with the
landfill earlier this year.
The Jefferson Parish Council unanimously approved the River
Birch deal after Broussard's administration estimated the parish
would save $19 million to $23 million over the 25-year contract.
The council has since hired an outside consultant to re-evaluate
the contract, which can't take effect until the parish severs Waste
Management's contract to run the parish dump. A federal lawsuit in
the case is set for trial in April.

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