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Sandy Cleanup Firm Under Scrutiny; Payroll Includes Ocean County GOP Chair

Those paid by Florida-based AshBritt, which got a contract for up to $100 million to clean up after natural disasters, includes George Gilmore, the GOP chairman

A contract that could pay a politically connected company up to $100 million to clean up after Hurricane Sandy and other natural disasters has come under scrutiny, the Star-Ledger is reporting.

Those paid by Florida-based AshBritt include George Gilmore, the  Republican chairman of Ocean County; Maggie Moran, a former top aide to Gov. Jon Corzine whose husband is the mayor of Belmar; and Kris Kolluri, a New Jersey lobbyist and former head of the state Department of Transportation under Corzine, according to the newspaper.

Gilmore confirmed to the newspaper that he was hired by AshBritt, but declined to say whether he has a conflict of interest because of his role as attorney for towns, such as Seaside Heights and Jackson, that hired the company.

Gilmore's firm also represents Brick Township, which hired AshBritt.

Last month, Ocean County officials said the hiring of the Florida-based firm for debris removal was legal and necessary for a quick response in the weeks after Hurricane Sandy.

Responding to comments from Gary Black of Jackson, who claimed an article in the Star-Ledger of Newark criticized Ocean County's involvement with AshBritt, a debris removal firm hired by the state, the Ocean County Board of Freeholders said the county was piggybacking on the state's contract.

The exchange took place at a Jan. 16 meeting of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

"Under state law, counties may use contracts the state has in place," Freeholder Gerry P. Little said in response to Black's comments.

That Ledger article, accessible here,  suggested the company and the state exploited political ties and distress over the storm to gain municipal clients. Ocean County was only briefly mentioned as one of its clients.

In an email entitled "AshBritt Had Extensive Experience And Unique Capabilities To Respond To Major Disasters," Gov. Chris Christie's office responded Tuesday that AshBritt is a "national, rapid-response natural disaster recovery company well tested in marshaling extensive resources quickly to remove massive amounts of debris from communities that have been impacted by natural disaster."

"AshBritt is currently overseeing and coordinating 83 subcontractors in New Jersey for cleanup work – 71 percent (59) of which are all New Jersey companies," the email said.

The governor's office also says the contract was competitively bid, saying AshBritt was retained by the state on Oct. 31, 2013, via an existing competitively bid contract in Connecticut. "It was made available as one option among others for municipalities - many of which chose other available contractors, chose to use municipal resources, or both," the email said.

"Having AshBritt allowed New Jersey to make available as an option a previously procured, competitively bid contract for disaster management and debris removal services in the immediate aftermath of the storm," according to the email.

AshBritt has made billions of dollars by persuading states to sign lucrative "disaster recovery" deals that allow it unequaled access to local officials in a crisis, according to the Star-Ledger.

The company markets itself as an agency with the skill and connections needed to help embattled towns get the maximum reimbursements from the Federal Emergency Management Agency after a disaster, according to the newspaper.

It offers towns and counties one-stop shopping: Pay us up front and we’ll hire the contractors to clear your streets and haul away the debris. And then we’ll take care of the bureaucracy to make sure you get the most money possible back from FEMA, according to the Star-Ledger.

AshBritt’s critics say the company artificially drives up costs and takes advantage of officials who are intimidated by Washington bureaucracy. But Jared Moskowitz, the company’s general counsel and a state representative in Florida, told the Ledger that such talk is "rumor and innuendo." He said about 70 percent of the contractors hired by AshBritt are from New Jersey.

So far, 43 municipalities that sustained significant damage have hired AshBritt. The state contract allows the towns to hire AshBritt without bidding out the work and frees them of some environmental regulations, the Ledger states.

Local mayors who have used the company say they had little time to search on their own, according to newspaper, and welcomed AshBritt. Toms River Mayor Thomas Kelaher told the Ledger: "They’re doing an absolutely outstanding job. . . . They work from the minute the sun comes up to the minute the sun sets.

A Dec. 6 news release from Toms River describes AshBritt as a "FEMA-approved" contractor. Asked about the Toms River statement, Albert Pillot, a spokesman with FEMA, said, "FEMA does not endorse, approve or recommend any contractors," according to the newspaper.

More information can be found in these two Star-Ledger articles:

Politically connected Florida firm gets Sandy cleanup contract

Florida cleanup firm's political ties sweep across N.J.

Sal Sorce February 06, 2013 at 11:08 PM
Stafford Council Meeting Tuesday night ... Voucher Resolution Authorizing the payment of bills in the amount of $18,615,769.38. The poor residents who showed up for Public Comment session appeared to be left in the lurch ... the council and mayor did not appear to have much information and advised residents to speak to their insurance companies ... I for one did not hear much in the way of FEMA $$$ or cost of permits, etc. The amount of time that has passed vs the type of information provided last night was retarded ... lacking depth ... just another kick down the road ... Heard from a legal group the nearly 3,000 residents should be looking into a class action law suit on who approved the construction and codes vs the number of flood damages over the amount of homes and when they were built at current flooding conditions ... incremental storm water drainage systems ... too many may have been allowed to build at out dated levels ... has anyone ever looked at the area from the satellite??? 40 x 80 foot lots on lagoons and crammed against each other, a plan for disaster waiting to happen ...
Sal Sorce February 06, 2013 at 11:10 PM
OVER $10-MILLION NOT $18-MILLION ... typo. Stafford Council Meeting Tuesday night ... Voucher Resolution Authorizing the payment of bills in the amount of $10,615,769.38.
Mary Chase February 07, 2013 at 12:12 AM
Yeah, because Democrats never do stuff like this....
Mary Chase February 07, 2013 at 12:20 AM
A third party would have corrupt membefs too, if not before being elected, then definitely after, when they have to pay back those who got them in. It's always been that way, and it always will be that way. Look at history, look at other countries - it's always the same for the middle class masses.
just do it February 07, 2013 at 01:20 AM
you arjust the biggest fucking asshole. Post stupid shit all the time and piss people off
just do it February 07, 2013 at 01:23 AM
ur a dick wahoo. Chief of ur own fuckin little brain
10% Tax Cut NOW February 07, 2013 at 02:15 AM
Why was Ashbritt chosen by our and County ? It's time the State Comptroller step in review this award. Mr. Boxer please do your job.
10% Tax Cut NOW February 07, 2013 at 02:22 AM
Gilmore created the Rittacco Empire, he approved his every move on the TRBOE and he continues to fleece the Taxpayer' s of Ocean County each day.
Matthew Lightbody Sr. February 07, 2013 at 02:48 AM
Nick, I was allowed to remove the metal from in front of homes after the storm and the people loved it because they did not want it sitting there and they were even taking my number so friends could call me and come get it and anything else I wanted. And those that did not want me to take it was respected and left alone. About the contamination I am saying when the stuff is in front of the home it was properly bagged and set on the curb. The politically hired contractors removed the stuff taking it different locations and piled in lots and parking lots where a dozer ran it over repeatedly and piling it higher and higher causing the paints and other contaminits to open and run in soil. This stuff could have been taken to the landfill and properly dumped there in piles and sorted if they wanted to and then buried. It would have been moved once instead of now twice making the cost reasonable and affective for all. I am glad they removed it fast but do it the right way the first time instead of bleeding the taxpayers out of there money. Now all the contamination will be where the kids and others will once walk and play causing exposure for illnesses or worse.... You must think safety for all and not put the residents at risk.....
Sal Sorce February 07, 2013 at 03:27 PM
Director Freeloader Kelly and Freeloaders Approve $7.5 MILLION PAYMENT TO FLORIDA BASED ASHBRITT FOR STORM DEBRIS REMOVAL ... "COUNTY WILL NOT BE IN THE DEBRIS REMOVAL BUSINESS" BARLETT'S TALKING OUT OF TWO SIDES OF HIS BRAIN... THIS IS HIS QUOTE ... HE ALSO STATED THE DEBRIS REMOVAL IS UP TO EACH TOWN ... THEY KNOW BEST???
Matthew Lightbody Sr. February 09, 2013 at 06:49 PM
As I told Keith I had hundreds of tapes about the corruption in Berkeley Township I find it is time to let them go. Yes it is time to upload all tapes 2 at a time for as many days to do all. This will be via YOU-TUBE I will send the link out all names will be BERKELEY TOWNSHIP CORRUPTION. The first is an employee telling me and my wife how a supervisor made them deliver furniture from Jackson to his home in Bayville and back to Jackson with a freezer. Then he tells me the supervisor asked and recieved a nude picture from a female vendor and he was going to buy stuff off her for the township and much more. Please this goes on and on with each tape i release. There is nasty language and cursing so please forgive me. But when you do this it must be done knowing thats going to happen. I hope the patch lets this be read by all so you will also see all the governoring bodies from the township to the county and the Governor knew of this by me. Even the prosecutors who said they wanted the tape and was investigating it then told me they decided not to because the higher politicians said not to because it will cause people to be locked up. NOW IT TIS TIME YOU ALL SEE WHAT REALLY GOES ON WITH TAXPAYERS MONEY FROM THEFT OF TIME, DRUGS WHICH YOU HAS TO BE TALKED ABOUT TO GET CONFESSIONS TO RACKETEERING, MOLESTING A FEMALE EMPLOYEE AND JUV ENILE AND MUCH MORE. The list goes on and then crimes are still being committed today with the phone calls and pictures I get. JUDGEMENT DAY IS HERE!!!
Pat March 01, 2013 at 09:12 PM
Nick, You would think it is OK....Corruption in the State, In the Counties and in the Towns...including PPB. It is disgusting what takes place...but lets cheer it on and support it all.
Pat March 01, 2013 at 09:18 PM
diane, I am right behind you... People are leaving this state in record numbers..It is sickening what goes on and you have a bunch of idiots that cheer it all...It is Ok because it is my party line...Both sides is so corrupt and it is always ok for both sides....I am also sick of the dirtiest politics that take place in the schools...So many kids are getting left out in the cold because of it too... I am sick of people saying the same thing over and over about that is just the way it is and has been for many years...Great, so everyone just rolls over and lets it happen.
Smith March 02, 2013 at 02:39 AM
@just do it...It is amazing that the patch will keep your comment and get rid of others that is no where near as offensive as yours.
Smith March 02, 2013 at 02:41 AM
hmmmmmm...Of all people, you should know all about something stinks here.
Sal Sorce March 02, 2013 at 04:01 PM
The Record-Star Ledger 0302-2013 - Probe to follow report that AshBritt hired felon's unregistered company. "the state agency that regulates waste transporters and is charged with keeping criminal elements out -- said has started its own probe into whether the hauler inappropriately used another company's credentials to gain access to restricted dumping sites." Both actions were in response to a report in the Record yesterday that the trucking company, Ace Materials was paid $250,000 by a disaster recovery company chosen by the Sandy clean up ... AshBritt a Florida company hired more than 100 subcontractors to do the bulk of the cleanup work. The article goes on to report Ace worked directly for AshBritt but never registered with state or applied for decals through AshBritt... Instead it used decals from another licensed license holder Central Jersey Waste & Recycling. "Central Jersey is owned by Frank Fiumerfreddo, Jr hose father was booted from the industry for life, after pleading guilty in the 1990's to corruption charges." Frank Fiumefreddo Senior was a one-time member of the GAMBINO criime family and controlled Central Jersey Waste after his son bought it in 2003 through a consulting arrangement that hid his interest in the company. Lawyers for Fiumefreddo and son said there was never an attempt to hide information ... denied the elder was associated with organized crime. Star Ledger The Record 03-02-2013
Sal Sorce March 02, 2013 at 04:06 PM
Continued; Larry Hajna a spokesman for the DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION would not say if Central Jersey Waste was a focus of the investigation, "We will be investigating if there was any inappropriate use of decals," he said. He said it was too early to discuss possible penalties or other actions ... spokesman for AshBritt said they will conduct a "full internal audit of all documents to ensure other subcontractors are properly registered an licensed. I the case of of the DEP or other state officials ... Is this an example of the foxes watching over the chickens???
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:22 PM
End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New Jersey Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:24 PM
End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New jersey... Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:25 PM
End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New jersey... Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:25 PM
End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New jersey... Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Are you fed up yet? End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New jersey... Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:26 PM
Are you fed up yet? End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New jersey... Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Are you fed up yet? End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New jersey... Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Are you fed up yet? End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New jersey... Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:31 PM
Don't use the corruption to campaign with false hopes and promises,that you and I both know won't get fixed! I spoke to Bob Armstrong to learn what he's about before making my conclusion! ALL HE TALKED ABOUT WAS CORRUPTION IN THE JAIL SYSTEM,AND TALKS OF ADDING ONTO THE JAIL!The corruption is much deeper!We don't need another canidate using the very thing's that oppress the people to gain a vote. Are you fed up yet? End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New jersey... Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:32 PM
Are you fed up yet? End Homelessness And Political Corruption In New jersey... Come Visit And Spread Awareness! https://www.facebook.com/EHAPC?ref=hl
Miriam March 05, 2013 at 07:38 PM
Here is some wisdom! It's not about the same Freeholders winning votes again,or how people need to vote another in to see change.Why?Because they ALL know each other!From their lawyer friends who kiss butt, the good "ol boy's club in the justice system and on ward,hence one hand is continually washing the other. It's time for the "PEOPLE" to start campaigning against the corrupt, and for the "PEOPLE" to run for office! The offenders sit an laugh because they know right now the "PEOPLE" haven't truly acted out of fear, or laziness.The work that must be accomplished goes beyond a vote about who knows who, or who piles on better.It's time the community started to be a voice and truly take their community back!!
Tom Cular March 15, 2013 at 02:47 PM
Gilmore always seems to come out of it like a baby with a clean diaper sooner or later the diaper is going to leak. I hope it's sooner.
Tom Cular March 15, 2013 at 02:50 PM
John, you're correct, it also applies to engineering and accounting firms.

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