Is a Crooked Company in Broward Still Soaking Up Public Money?
|Flickr user: DieselDemon|
But surely, for the convicted company itself, Cliff Berry Inc., the days of collecting any county's money were over. Right? Well, that depends on your definition of public money.
Technically, the contract that Cliff Berry (the company) had for hauling waste water at Miami International Airport now belongs to Port Consolidated, a Florida company that keeps seven offices in the state, including Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. But the company that actually tackles the costly (read: profitable) business of treating that water? According to industry sources, that's Cliff Berry.
Two weeks ago, an anonymous tipster called me to complain about this. "You've got a company that gets convicted, it's not allowed to do business with the county, but it gets to do business with the county indirectly?" he fumed.
So I phoned Cliff Berry last week. I reached the executive vice president in the Fort Lauderdale headquarters, Larry Doyle. He said he'd heard nothing about treating wastewater from MIA but that he'd have to call the company's Miami staff to check with them. The following day he told me, "I had the guys in the plant look into it, and we went back to the last fall, but there's no record whatsoever of them (Port Consolidated) bringing wastewater from the airport to our plant."
Well, maybe I got a bum tip. So I checked with Port Consolidated. Unfortunately, the company has not returned my phone messages.
This shouldn't be so hard. Allied Aviation, the company that operates the MIA fuel farm where Port Consolidated trucks pick up the dirty fuel, would know where those trucks take it. "They take it to Cliff Berry," answered Thomas Doherty, of Allied Aviation, in a matter-of-fact tone. I asked him how sure he was of this, and he said it was possible that Port Consolidated "changed vendors in the last month," but as far as he knew the stuff has always been going to Cliff Berry.
I circled back to ask Doyle about this, but he is out of town till next week. Certainly, Cliff Berry and Port Consolidated have a history of collaboration. If the tipster and Allied Aviation are correct, then it means that Cliff Berry, which had been caught stealing from Miami-Dade County, is still profiting, if indirectly, from county contracts. A truly brilliant piece of corporate skullduggery.