Early to Work, Early to Jail: Ga. Trash Collector Gets 30 Days

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on March 10, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A Georgia man will serve 30 days in jail for starting his trash collection route too early. Apparently, Kevin McGill violated an ordinance in Sandy Springs, Georgia, limiting garbage pickup to the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

McGill works for Waste Management Inc., and began collecting trash just after 5 in the morning last month.

Strict Sanitation Statute

McGill appears to have violated city ordinance Section 46-22(c)(1), which states:

Collection times. Save and except as provided in this section, collection shall not start before 7:00 a.m. nor continue after 7:00 p.m. at any location. Operations may only be conducted Monday through Saturday.

Sandy Springs spokesperson Sharon Kraun told VICE the city will not tolerate early-morning garbage truck noise: "Our residents, they like their quality of life ... And that means not waking up at 5 a.m. to hear the trash can." Apparently, the city's contracted trash collectors hadn't been getting the message.

Bill Riley, the city prosecutor in charge of McGill's case, said, "We tried forever not to put anyone in jail for these cases, but it wasn't working." Riley also said the city had meetings with Waste Management about early pickups, and the company "told him not to come here before 7."

Riley deflected criticism of the harsh sentence by saying, "It was ultimately the judge's decision as to whether that was an appropriate sentence." Riley also reiterated McGill's role in accepting the plea deal: "This was a negotiated plea. ... I just made a recommendation, he didn't have to take it." he said.

Small Fine to Hard Time

According to McGill, however, he didn't know a jail sentence was even possible when he arrived at the court to pay what he thought would be a fine for early collecting. But when faced with the prospect of a trial and a possible longer sentence, McGill took the prosecutor's plea deal.

"He didn't realize until he finished everything that you're actually going to have to go to jail for going to work early," said McGill's attorney, Kimberly Bandoh. "You don't sentence a guy in jail for 30 days for picking up trash. It's egregious."

In addition to a month's worth of jail time, McGill's was also sentenced to six months of probation. He will begin serving his jail sentence over the weekends, so he can continue working.

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