Capitol Waste Services Fined $120K for Illegal, Secret Donations to Candidates


July 1, 2015

The owners of Capitol Waste Services of East Boston have been fined $120,000 by the state for making illegal political contributions according to a disposition agreement with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Financing (OCPF).

A review of contributions to political candidates by OCPF determined that Joseph Ricupero, Capitol Waste’s president, and Michael Merullo, its treasurer, requested that company employees financially support political candidates. .

According to OCPF, to support their preferred candidates, Ricupero or Merullo provided cash to employees who made campaign contributions, thereby concealing where the money was really coming from. 

In some instances, the cash from Ricupero or Merullo was distributed by those employees to family members and friends to also make contributions.

The state’s campaign finance law prohibits disguising the true origins of contributions, and bans corporate contributions to candidates. The funds, a total of $38,000, originated from cash proceeds obtained by salvaging scrap metal that was collected during trash collection activities.  The proceeds were kept at the corporate offices.

The contributions to candidates were made by 11 individuals, six of whom were employed by Capitol Waste.  The 10 candidates who received funds in this manner ran for elected office in Boston, Everett, Revere and Weymouth. 

As part of the disposition agreement, Ricupero and Merullo have paid $44,000 to the state’s general fund.  Both men have also agreed not to solicit contributions from any employee of Capitol Waste for any Massachusetts candidate or political committee for a period of three years.

In addition, Capitol Waste will make payments to the four communities as follows – Boston, $34,000; Revere, $24,000; Everett, $12,000; and Weymouth, $6,000.  These payments must be completed by Dec. 31, 2015.

The contribution details are available in the disposition agreement, available here.  The candidates who are still active must disgorge the prohibited contributions they received in accordance with the residual funds clause, according to the agreement.  The candidates were not aware that the disguised contributions were made with corporate funds until they were notified just prior to the signing of the disposition agreement.

The disposition agreement was signed by OCPF Director Michael J. Sullivan, and by Ricupero and Merullo.

A disposition agreement is a voluntary written agreement entered into between the subject of a review and OCPF, in which the subjects agree to take certain specific actions.

OCPF is an independent state agency that administers MGL Chapter 55, the campaign finance law.  Established in 1973, OCPF is the depository for disclosure reports filed by candidates and political committees.