As mentioned here, Santa Ana recycling equipment maker Enterprise Co. has given $4,000 to the campaign against Irvine's Measure R, which asks residents to give a vote of approval to the Irvine City Council's planning of the Great Park on the old El Toro Marine Corps base.
Enterprise Co., which was incorporated in 1969 under the ownership of Orval and Albert Gould, has a solid reputation nationally when it comes to the design, engineering and manufacturing of equipment and systems for the solid waste, scrap processing and resource recovery industries. According to the company's blurb on RecyclingToday.com: “Enterprise Company turns your visions into reality.”
But Enterprise helped turn the visions of Marion County, Florida, into a nightmare in the 1980s, when Orval Gould was in the middle of a fraud scheme that also involved Italian mobsters and Orange County's adopted son, John Wayne.
Gould was among seven officials from a New York firm that managed an Ocala, Florida, landfill that were indicted on grand theft charges, according to a Dec. 12, 1986, report in the St. Petersburg Times. He was charged with one count of committing grand theft in excess of $20,000 and one count of conspiracy to commit grand theft in excess of $20,000.
A partnership known as Urban Waste of Marion County won a 23-year contract to operate the Ocala dump, based on the promise that it would build a garbage recycler known as a pyrolytic converter that Enterprise was creating.
According to the 1994 second edition of Alan A. Block's book Space, Time and Organized Crime, the pyrolytic converter, which would turn household garbage into oil for fuel, had been theorhetically developed in the 1970s by Santa Ana's Duke Engineering Co., whose backing came from “The Duke” himself, John Wayne. Orval Gould came along in 1974 to build a pilot system and handle future manufacturing. Space, Time and Organized Crime gives a fascinating account of how various municipalities got roped into “a swindle of longstanding” that centered on a “fairy-tale machine” that could not actually convert garbage into usable energy. According to the book:
-Gould held a pyrolytic converter test in Santa Ana for Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts in December 1975. A report by the districts on the demonstration says 100 pounds of shredded garbage produced 41 pounds of oil in about two hours. During the test, Gould mentioned that Enterprise had recently received a signed, $5 million contract with a New York-based refuse collector to complete in six months a plant capable of processing 150 tons per day of household garbage. But L.A. County concluded that Gould had only presented a small prototype, that large-scale operations would require further testing and that he provided few technical details. So L.A. County decided to wait and evaluate the New York operation before going any further.
-The New York firms that were marketing and managing the pyrolytic converter formed a month before that demonstration, and over the next decade Gould would supposedly try but fail to produce a machine while “fast-money boys” set about raising funds for them.
-Urban Waste was part of a larger, New York based company under the leadership of Rocco Velocci. According to the Florida indictment, Velocci was known to do business with organized crime figures and once tried to sell a garbage recycling device to a New Yorker linked to the Carlos Gambino crime family.
-Marion County later terminated its contract because Urban Waste failed to produce a pyrolytic converter or repay the county. The Florida grand jury indictment followed. It alleged Velocci and others, with the knowledge and consent of Gould and others, misrepresented the existence of a working pyrolytic converter, the performance of such a machine, that a landfill could be successfully operated using one and that they even had experience doing so. Rocco, Gould, Enterprise and the other defendants “knew that the representations were material, false and misleading,” according to the indictment.
-As part of a separate investigation of New York-based trash haulers, a professor of engineering at Hofstra University told a New York commission in 1983 that pyrolytic converters had been discarded by the engineering community because they required consistent fuel sources which were not produced by solid waste, meaning it was not a viable technology.
-After the Florida indictment came down, Marion County was offered $15 million from the defendants to settle the case, but refused. The case finally went away in 1985 as part of a federal action to break up the mob's nationwide trash hauling operations out of Long Island. Several municipalities they were alleged to defraud were paid several millions of dollars, and the Lucchese and Gambino crime families of La Cosa Nostra got out of the trash business.
Velocci detailed meeting with Gould in a grand jury deposition he gave in 1986. Velocci said he made the trip out west “because of all the rumors that were going around that possibly Orville [sic] was not building the machine.”
“I am convinced he is doing something. I seen machinery,” Velocci said.
Questioning later centered on what exactly was going on with the pyrolytic converter in Santa Ana, which Velocci admitted he had not visited for several years despite continuing to sell agencies on the technology.
Question: Was the … pyrolytic converter in operation or was it being constructed at the time, do you know?
Velocci: I presume it was under construction. A portion of it was done.
Question: Who told you what the reasons for the delays have been for the last four years?
Velocci: Well, first of all, in the beginning, we had some trouble with the permitting. We didn't get the permitting.
Question: By the way, did he show you the old horizontal pyrolytic converter? … Is it in the junkyard there?
Question: It is in the junkyard there?
Velocci: Yeah. I didn't go over this but Les [Erber, president of Urban Waste, also indicted] did.
Question: Did he show it to you?
Velocci: Yes. It's laying there.
Question: All right. Have you yourself tried to market this pyrolytic converter anyplace else?
Velocci: Oh, yeah. … A lot of places. … You might say that I have been around trying to get the machine on line.
Question: Which one?
Velocci: The old one. … The one that is laying out in the junkyard.