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Douglas County landfill supervisor, employees, customers jailed

Published: Apr. 15, 2021 at 7:05 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - A handful of associates and employees with Douglas County Landfill are behind bars tonight, booked on charges of “criminal conspiracy.”

The group includes:

  • Mark Huntley - Landfill Supervisor
  • Mark Helmberger - Clerk/weighmaster
  • Lara Anahi - Landfill employee
  • Suzanne Swanson - Landfill employee
  • Gary Cooper - Debris Hauler
  • Hector Flores - Debris Hauler
Douglas County landfill supervisor, employees jailed
Douglas County landfill supervisor, employees jailed

Weighmasters are responsible for operating a computerized scale and calculating how much someone should be charged for solid waste disposal.

They handle cash and check transactions and a customer said he believes there’s a possibility he was ripped off.

“For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why we were being charged the same amount for a bag of leaves versus concrete.” said the business owner who asked to remain anonymous.

The man said his company has been dumping debris in the county’s landfill for years. They’re in the system and usually, he just pulls his dump trailer in, gets the content weighed, and pays with no questions asked.

But recently, he told 6-News, something suspicious started happening.

“It’s kind of weird and it’s been questioned several times by me actually. We’re confronted with a question: ‘is it gonna be a cash transaction or a check today?”, something he said had never been asked before.

A reliable source told 6-News the criminal charges are related to schemes by these employees to overcharge individuals and companies using the landfill, then pocketing the difference.

Douglas County Commissioner Maureen Boyle addressed the claims Thursday night, expressing disappointment and further adding that any misuse of taxpayer money is intolerable.

“It’s very disturbing. When you hear potentially money has been taken or something illegitimate has been done, regardless of what it is, it’s something we need to get a handle on,” Boyle said.

Waste Management sent 6 News this statement Thursday night:

“Today’s arrests do not involve any Waste Management of Nebraska, Inc. employees.

Waste Management had previously identified irregularities at the gatehouse and brought this information to the attention of Douglas County. Subsequently, Waste Management has been actively assisted with this ongoing investigation.

Since 1998, WM has been the owner and operator of Pheasant Point. Douglas County, per agreement, is responsible for the operations and staffing of the gate house.”

Lisa Disbrow, spokesperson for Waste Management

“However many times this took place during the day, at the end when the weights were tabulated, and they knew how was supposed to be in the drawer they knew how much they were over, and that money would be given to the employees involved in the scheme,” Douglas County Sheriff’s Capt. Eric Sellers told 6 News. “One person would take the money count it determines how much they were over and then split it up amongst the employees that were involved.”

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