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$8 million fine dumped on landfill owners

The owners of a Pennsylvania landfill knew the company was under federal investigation when they bought it. They didn't realize the trouble would cost them.

USA Waste Service Inc. agreed to pay an $8 million fine to settle violations of federal campaign laws by the company's previous owners. Six people, including a state representative, and Empire Sanitary Landfill Inc. were indicted for making $129,000 in illegal contributions from 1994 to 1996 to 10 different campaigns for federal offices, U.S. Attorney David M. Barasch said Wednesday.Former officers and owners of the company are accused of funneling corporate funds into presidential and congressional campaigns by asking employees to contribute, then reimbursing them with company money. Corporate contributions to federal election campaigns are banned.

Even though USA Waste only acquired the landfill in December, it is legally responsible for the actions of the former employees and will pay the fine, Barasch said.

USA Waste, North America's third-largest solid waste company, said the company may sue the former owners for not apprising it about the full extent of the investigation, said Greg Sangalis, vice president and general counsel.

Barasch said no evidence exists to suggest any of the candidates, including President Clinton and GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole, knew about the illegal contributions.