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Hauler fined $2.4 million for dumping L.A. trash in Kern County

The California attorney general's office announced Thursday that a Kern County garbage hauler has pleaded  guilty to a felony charge of illegally dumping garbage from Los Angeles County into a Kern County landfill.

As part of his plea agreement, Paul Michael Benz, 68, owner of Tehachapi-based Benz Sanitation, will pay $2.4 million in restitution and put GPS trackers on all his garbage trucks, so officials will be able to make sure he doesn't try to sneak Los Angeles County trash into Kern in the future.

Benz could not be reached for comment.

Between January 2008 and this summer, Benz's company had a trash hauling contract in which it was allowed to pick up garbage in Kern County and dump it at local landfills at no charge. But prosecutors allege that Benz, who also had contracts to haul waste for about 1,500 residents and businesses in the Antelope Valley, conspired to mislabel L.A. County trash as originating in Kern County so he could dump it for free as well.

Officials said they became suspicious when the amount of waste purportedly coming from Ridgecrest dropped dramatically after the city ended its contract with Benz and hired a new company. As part of his plea agreement, Benz will be placed on felony probation and will step down from his company. County officials will also randomly audit the company's records in the future.

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-- Jessica Garrison

 
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