Septic company fined for septage revenge

Edgartown board of health says penalty against Maciel is meant to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

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Edgartown's board of health has suspended the permit of a local septic company after it learned the company pumped waste back into someone's septic system following a dispute. That's Troy Maciel, foreground, and Trevor Maciel background, during the Zoom call.

A Vineyard Haven septic hauler was fined $500 and hit with a 15-day permit suspension after evidence was presented to the Edgartown board of health that the company pumped waste back into a residential septic tank following a bill dispute. 

Troy and Trevor Maciel of Maciel and Sons were called before the board late Wednesday afternoon. Health agent Matt Poole told board members he felt it was uncontested that the pump-back act occurred, and it would be up to the board as to what the consequences would be. Poole said the act was a violation of state law. “This is something that cannot happen again in Edgartown,” he said. 

As The Times previously reported on April 6, Edgartown Police Officer Zachary Townes responded to a report of suspicious activity on Mill Hill Road. According to the police report, Townes encountered a Maciel and Sons septic truck with a hose extended into an open septic tank at 18 Mill Hill Road. 

Officer Townes called the owners of the property, Karen L. Bruno and Dr. Nicholas Bruno, and Karen allegedly said she and her husband were having “issues” with Maciel and Sons, and didn’t want them on their property. When the officer spoke to Trevor Maciel, he allegedly told Townes about the disagreement.

“Maciel stated that he had returned to [the property] to pump sewage back into the Brunos’ septic tanks,” a report states. “I ordered Maciel to stop pumping, and explained that if he felt he was owed money, he could pursue that in civil court. Maciel stopped pumping and stated that he understood.”

Poole told the board his office became aware of septic matters when the Brunos reached out for the septic records of their property, and for help in understanding aspects of the invoice they received from Maciel and Sons for pump-out and other septic work. 

Poole said on April 6, a call came in that “that Maciel and Sons had returned to the property and [were] about to empty the contents of their septage truck back into the onsite septic system.”

Poole said he “promptly” called Troy Maciel and left a voicemail “informing him I knew of his intent to empty septage back into the system.”

Maciel “very promptly” called Poole back, and Poole said during their conversation he told Maciel several times not to pump septage back into the Brunos’ system. Poole informed him such an act would put his town-issued hauler’s permit “in jeopardy.”

Poole said both he and Maciel were “pretty animated” during their conversation. Ultimately, Poole said, Maciel informed him the deed “was done.”

Troy and Trevor Maciel told the board at various points in the meeting their company did a lot of work for the Brunos on short notice, including clearing a soil pipe blockage that could have backed up into their cellar. In addition to pump work, their company cleaned and treated parts of the system. They said the system was brimming — above its pipes, and in dire need of a pump-out.

Karen Bruno said the mysteriousness of the bill was a problem from the get-go. “We really weren’t able to get an explanation of the work that was done, why it was done, what Trevor found,” she told the board. “Literally until this meeting now, we have had zero communication with Trevor or Troy.”

Dr. Nicholas Bruno told the board that to his understanding, a “paper clog” doesn’t necessarily translate into all the other work Maciel and Sons did. He characterized depositing waste back into the system as vandalism. And because it had been established that Maciel and Sons had disposed of the waste they originally pumped out, where, he asked, did the waste they pumped back into the system come from?

The Times posed the same question during the meeting.

Poole described what was put back into the Brunos’ system as “Martha’s Vineyard–originated septage.” He went on to say he felt it was “highly, highly, highly” unlikely septage was trucked onto the Vineyard, and that there was no evidence it was restaurant waste, “the highest-strength waste we have here,” but rather, residential waste.

Edgartown Police Chief Bruce Macnamee told the board his department forwarded the police report to the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office, and it was determined that whatever the violations were, they weren’t criminal. 

Troy Maciel criticized board of health assistant Janet Hathaway for what he alleged was behavior that fomented dissension over the invoice. 

“It’s inappropriate and it’s wrong to put septage back into a septic system,” health board member Dr. Garret Orazem said. “We have to try to make it clear that was the wrong thing to do, and that no one else should ever consider doing that in the town of Edgartown again.”

The board ultimately took a unanimous vote to order a 15-day suspension of Maciel and Sons’ septic permit in Edgartown, and fine the company $500. The suspension excluded the company’s porta-potty business, which was deemed essential for job sites.

Poole said Maciel and Sons would be given notice of the board’s decision, and the company can request a formal hearing with the board, if it wishes, to contest the decision.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Macial’s is one of the nicest, most respected, hardest working, island owned/operated, essential construction businesses on the island, everyone should have nothing but support for them from the major wrong doing of this ungrateful customer.

    Call them for an emergency and then not pay your bill…… GET REAL!!!!

    They should be glad Macial’s reaction was to only return the waste product that was not payed for…

    • That may be but this action speaks volumes. As a small business owner myself, dealing with the occasion unreasonable customer unfortunately is part of the deal. This was an immature move that says something about the company and its people. I will look for alternatives next time I need my tank pumped.

    • We should be glad all they did was return waste product? So what youre saying is that Maciel had grounds for even more extreme measures? Sounds pretty scary to me. What they did was illegal, unethical and irresponsible. A $500 fine is a joke. Jason you need to wake up and smell the septic.

        • wow John, were you the kid in school who hits someone then says “but he did it first”? Two wrongs dont make a right. Where is the accountability from the company? There is a proper way to go about collecting debts from consumers. The mafia/bully approach is not the way. There was said to be a dispute over the bill. If that was the case, then it should have been handled appropriately and taken to civil court to collect. Replies like these further exemplify what is wrong in our world. Maciel essentially resorted to a form of vigilante justice and last time I checked the island didnt need a Batman.

        • This was not just an emergency pump out . There was other extensive work that the owners questioned the need of. That question should be solved in court, not by dumping turds on the owners property.

    • What the Maciel’s did was small minded, stupid, ignorant, dangerous and illegal.
      First and foremost they should lose their septage hauling license, forever.
      Civil, intelligent civil people settle payment claims in court, not by exposing delinquent customers to other people’s turds.

      For openers there should be a criminal charges of trespass and dumping.

  2. Unfortunately this is a problem with many island trades people not just Maciel but carpenters, plumbers, electricians, landscapers, etc. there is so much work for these companies that they forgot about customer service and they expect you just to pay a bill without questioning anything. Some of them have the audacity to send a bill that says work performed $5700 and that’s it no explanation. Maciel was wrong and the client was not wrong for questioning a bill. I have seen many many bills over inflated on this island because they get away with it. Most of them act like they’re doing you a favor by showing up and doing work for them that they pay you. It is not just housing problems why we have workers coming from off island as far away as Bourne every day it is because of the overinflated rates they are able to get away with here and most people just pay the bill. The trades people on this island are out of control there are very few good ones left. Not once have I heard Maciel say they were sorry and that they overreacted and they had a bad day which hopefully is the case but I doubt it.

    • Maybe if everybody charged as much they might be able to live here also the price of homes the price of land if only I had charged enough I might be able to have owned a home here anyone thinking like that

  3. Home owners should educate themselves and see what it takes to do emergency calls, backhoe work, roofing, ditch digging and so much more. Spend a day in the shoes of a working stiff and see how much effort it takes to get a job done correctly. Troy or whomever does his billing should have explained. And a sorry is always helpful.
    Now is Dr Bruno a physician? And how much are his patients charged for an office call?

  4. He did something stupid and illegal, he got caught, and he has to face the consequences. Nice guy and islander, irrelevant. It was one guy who did one stupid thing, not all island trade people. Let’s not get carried away. Most trade folks on the island are great and don’t deserve criticism for this juvenile behavior.

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