Accounting & Tax

Waste Management Exec Found Guilty

SEC alleged that the former finance executive had filed false documents and engaged in insider trading.
Stephen TaubFebruary 6, 2006

A former chief accounting officer of Waste Management Inc., Bruce Snyder Jr., has been found guilty of civil charges of filing false regulatory documents and insider trading, according to the Houston Chronicle.

In 2003, two other former Waste Management executives — president and chief operating officer Rodney R. Proto and chief financial officer Earl E. DeFrates — settled charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC had alleged that they engaged in insider trading in the waste hauler’s stock and that they made public statements that they knew, or were reckless in not knowing, were materially false or misleading.

Snyder chose to contest the SEC’s charges. Specifically, the commission alleged that Snyder prepared, reviewed, and signed a materially false or misleading report for the March 1999 quarter even though he knew, or was reckless in not knowing, that it failed to disclose that Waste Management’s reported pretax income for that quarter included tens of millions of dollars of non-recurring income items. The undisclosed income items inflated the company’s earnings per share by about 17 percent.

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The commission also charged that Snyder then sold Waste Management stock based on this knowledge.

The jury, which heard the case in U.S. District Court in Houston, returned its verdict after one day of deliberations, noted the newspaper, which added that the penalty phase of the trial has not been scheduled.

According to the paper, Waste Management made a point of noting that the charges against Snyder stemmed from conduct under a previous management team. “We aren’t a party to the case. It was an action against a single individual,” spokeswoman Lynn Brown told the paper. “Therefore, it is inappropriate for us to comment about the outcome of the trial.”

From 1982 to 1985 and from 1988 to 1992, Snyder was an auditor with Coopers and Lybrand. He was a vice president and chief accounting officer of USA Waste from July 1992 until its merger with Waste Management; he was fired in February 2003.