A federal lawsuit was filed in September by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Detroit and a Massachusetts based charity against a Texas company, American Textile Recycling Services (ATRS). The lawsuit involves the clothing recycling bins that we have all seen in shopping center parking lots. But apparently these bins represent a billion dollar business in the U.S. and where there are that many zeroes, there are shysters looking to lie, cheat and steal their way to personal profit. That’s basically what the lawsuit accuses ATRS of doing.
St Vincent de Paul had several of these clothing recycling bins in the Detroit area which their representative says they use to help people in need. Their lawyer reportedly has a deposition from a man who admitted he had been hired by ATRS last year and has been towing away St. Vincent de Paul clothing donation bins and selling them for scrap metal. In addition to the money he made selling the bins, ATRS paid him $150 for every bin removed and replaced with a bin from ATRS. He stated ATRS ordered him to hide the company’s involvement.
Need more sleaze? We got that:
The suit claims that ATRS would draft letters, sometimes fraudulently, saying that the charities no longer had permission to have bins at a particular location and giving the charities 72 hours to remove the bins.
The letters were then mailed on a Thursday, not to the local office in Detroit but, in the case of St. Vincent de Paul, to the national office in St. Louis. By the time the charities had received the letters, 72 hours would have passed and the bins, which cost about $1,300, would already have been removed before the charities could react.
ATRS denies any wrongdoing:
An ATRS spokeswoman said last week that the company had not received the lawsuit and could not comment on specifics, but denied that the Houston-based company was involved in any shady dealings involving metro Detroit donation bins.
St. Vincent de Paul is still determining its total losses from the alleged scam but a lawyer involved in the lawsuit puts into words what many people are probably thinking:
“It’s unbelievable, it’s totally unbelievable,” said Dan Dalton, the Bloomfield Hills-based attorney representing the charities, as he discussed ATRS’ alleged tactics. “Like who would do this kind of stuff?”
But ATRS still has at least one friend in the local charity community: Michigan Humane Society which has been in league with ATRS since April 2012:
ATRS bins in the region get to include a Michigan Humane Society logo, and then ATRS cuts the Humane Society a check for the donated materials — $20,000 so far, according to the Humane Society.
“They (ATRS) have been a supporter of the Michigan Humane Society and, to our knowledge, they have been upholding all legal and ethical standards,” [Michigan Humane Society spokesman Ryan] McTigue said.
A ringing endorsement from a large, wealthy pet killing facility which holds no animal control contracts. That is, Michigan Humane doesn’t have to take in homeless pets by agreement with any city or county, they want to take in all these animals, most of whom they send to the landfill. Imagine how much Fatal Plus $20 grand buys.
Michigan Humane has no plans to change its relationship with ATRS according to the Detroit Free Press.
(Thank you Mark for the link.)