New York attorney general Barbara Underwood and Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe announced on Thursday the largest civil settlement in connection with Bottle Bill violations.
They say the $4.3 million civil settlement is with Oak Beverages Inc. of Blauvelt for defrauding the state of $1.85 million in bottle deposits. Underwood says Oak Beverages has admitted to the conduct and agreed to pay damages and penalties. In addition, the Rockland County District Attorney’s office charged the company’s general manager, Manuel Busto Sr., with grand larceny and tax fraud felonies. The investigations arose from a whistleblower lawsuit under the New York False Claims Act. The whistleblower is a former Oak Beverages employee and will receive more than $948,000 for bringing the misconduct to light.
Statement from Oak Beverages CEO Debra Boening: "In June 2017 Oak Beverages was notified by the Attorney General’s office of the allegation. We cooperated completely with the State’s investigation and also hired an independent firm to conduct their own full scale forensics accounting into the matter. Once it was confirmed and the individual was identified, the party was terminated and we took responsibility and agreed to the settlement. Since then Oak Beverage has instituted new policies and procedures to ensure full compliance with appropriate checks and balances.
We at Oak Beverages strive for the highest levels of integrity in our dealings with our customers, partners and the various agencies we work with. We are deeply upset by the conduct of the employees who orchestrated and/or participated in this brazen scheme."