The Tri-Town Rescue Squad, the St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, and SUNY Potsdam are among government entities that will be compensated by a medical waste disposal company that overcharged them.
Those payments are part of a $2.4 million settlement statewide by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman with one of the nation’s largest medical waste disposal companies, Stericycle, Inc.
Stericycle improperly overcharged nearly 1,000 New York government entities, including police and fire departments, rescue squads, schools, jails, and hospitals all over the state.
Since 2003, Stericycle has been adding price increases without giving any notice to these customers and in violation of the contract terms.
Under the agreement, several Stericycle customers in St. Lawrence County will be getting full refunds for the price increases:
• St. Lawrence County Public Health Department, Canton, will be getting $1,901.57.
• SUNY Potsdam is due $1,408.10 from the company.
• Tri-Town Volunteer Rescue Squad, Brasher Falls, will be getting a payment of $515.15.
• Quality Milk Production Services, an animal health diagnostic center on the St. Lawrence University campus at 34 Cornell Drive, Canton, is associated with the veterinary schools at Cornell University. They will get a check for $502.79.
Every affected government entity will receive a check from Stericycle covering 100 percent of the overcharged amount, over $820,000 in all. In addition, Stericycle will permanently discontinue automatic price increases to the New York government customers covered by the settlement and will provide notice and opportunity to opt out before any future rate increases of any kind.
“Stericycle improperly profited by overcharging New York taxpayers,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “In these times of harsh budget cuts to education, public health, and public safety, local governments and agencies need every available dollar and we will hold accountable corporations like Stericycle that use cynical schemes to rip off New York taxpayers.”
A whistleblower complaint filed in Federal District Court in Chicago by Jennifer Perez, a former Stericycle employee, and unsealed today alleges that Stericycle fraudulently overcharged government customers across the United States with its API scheme. The attorney general’s investigation of the allegations in the complaint found that Stericycle had programmed its billing system to increase by 18 percent, an amount designed to go undetected by customers. The investigation found the sole reason for the increases was to increase revenue and avoid detection by these customers. But when Stericycle customers would complain of rate increases, Stericycle employees were instructed to state that Stericycle had incurred actual increased costs due to, for example, new strict environmental regulations.