White Collar Crackerjack

Orange trash haulers case is soooo 1998

Some activities went back as far as the early '80s and included Hambarian's friends from his days at Villa Park High School.

Investigators allege that Hambarian carried out his scheme without the knowledge of brothers Mike and Don or their parents, Alyce and company founder Sam Hambarian, who were all officers in the companies. They say the 40-year-old business had always been run like a family operation: positions were inherited, duties were delegated, and trust was tacit. That enabled Hambarian to continue without his family's knowledge—or their participation.

"All of the evidence of fraud pointed to Jeff having his hands in it," DeBerry said.

Cafferty concurred, adding, "There isn't a scintilla of evidence" against any other members of the Hambarian family in any criminal or civil proceedings.

Hambarian spent only a short time in jail after his arrest. A few weeks later, still in shock over the scandal, his parents cut the city of Orange a check for nearly $10 million in an initial settlement. In the months that followed, Hambarian would see the company his father built absorbed by the city's new trash hauler, Waste Management. According to an agreement with the city, Hambarian was not allowed to work for Waste Management in any capacity. In addition, Waste Management acquired all of the former Hambarian companies' facilities—except for the land. The family still collects rent from the company's Orange recycling facility.

"Jeff, meanwhile, hasn't lost a dime. He still has all of his ill-gotten gains," said DeBerry, adding he believes that, despite the initial settlement, Orange is still owed a significant amount of money and will see Hambarian in civil court—eventually. "We're willing to wait."

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