One of the darkest episodes of the Recology public corruption scandal will be aired in federal court, as a grieving spouse claims the company tried to pin the bribery on her husband, causing his suicidal breakdown.
There was a horrible footnote to the ongoing Mohammed Nuru and Recology alleged public corruption and bribery scandal, which made little news when it happened on January 2 this year. A 16-year Recology accountant who’d risen the ranks to become VP and corporate controller took his own life, in front of his wife and two children, according to a federal lawsuit first reported by Mission Local.
That high-ranking accountant was Adam Tabak, who feared the company and its outside counsel were looking to pin all the malfeasance on him. For context, this was just over a month after a first Recology executive had been indicted for bribery, in criminal complaints that indicated more Recology execs would be charged. Four months thereafter, another one was.
So the heat was clearly on at the waste collection company. Per the Chronicle’s writeup of the lawsuit, “Recology Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Gary Chen and a team of at least four attorneys from the company’s law firm, Morrison & Foerster” held a Zoom meeting with Tabak on December 1, 2020, wherein Tabak “was given no agenda and could not leave the room while Recology officials interrogated him over fraud and money laundering charges against a company executive.”
Mission Local has this direct excerpt of the lawsuit: “The alleged wrongdoing of Mr. Tabak asserted at the meeting went beyond his alleged failures to detect fraud and financial improprieties in the company. The false allegations articulated against Adam, without any reasonable basis, were that he himself participated in fraud. This was done without a scintilla of evidence against Mr. Tabak. It was further done in an effect to deflect blame and illegality from senior corporate officials.”
Tabak reportedly had a nervous breakdown after the meeting, and checked into a psychiatric facility. According to the Chronicle writeup, several weeks later, “On Jan. 2, Tabak took his own life by stabbing himself in front of his wife and children.”
His wife is suing for wrongful death, deceit, false imprisonment, negligent hire and supervision of the meeting participants and disability discrimination. The case was transferred to a US District Court this past Friday, though Mission Local reports it was filed in an SF Superior Court in August.
Recology said in a statement to the Chronicle that the case is without merit. “Recology has never claimed that Adam was involved in the conduct that led to the U.S. Attorney’s and San Francisco City Attorney’s investigations,” according to the statement. They claimed they could not elaborate because of attorney-client privilege, but added that “the attorneys who participated conducted themselves professionally at all times.”
It is fair to assume Zoom will be subpoenaed to provide footage of that meeting.
If you are in crisis, text "BAY" to 741741 for free, 24/7, confidential crisis support from Crisis Text Line. And if you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, you or they should call the San Francisco Suicide Prevention crisis line at 415-781-0500.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide: do not leave the person alone; remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt; and call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.
Related: Real Estate Magnate Victor Makras the Latest Indicted by Feds in SF Public Corruption Probe [SFist]
Image via Recology