Mike DiCenzo wants everyone to know he has had one speeding ticket in his life. It was on Highway 401. He was late for an appointment.
That particular offence doesn’t show up on the Internet, at least not in the first few pages of a popular search engine website, when you type in DiCenzo’s name. But there are some other charges that DO show up against the Chief Operating Officer of Green Arc Tire Manufacturing. Plus some information about business dealings with a man who since went on to get kicked out of the Chartered Accountants of Ontario.
“We were aware of those issues when we started talking with him,” explained Town of St. Marys CAO Kevin McLlwain, when asked whether or not there had been sufficient “due diligence” undertaken by the town before Green Arc eventually purchased the former Dana factory on James Street South.
McLlwain added that it just makes sense to “Google” any person involved in negotiations of that magnitude.
And that very simple act is exactly what some people have been doing with DiCenzo. Almost immediately, they come up with $25,000 in fines personally, and an additional $125,000 in fines against a company he owned, from 2004. The fines related to the improper storage of used tires on a property nearby one his company already owned for the purpose of stockpiling tires.
Dig a little deeper, and you find another company with which DiCenzo was previously involved, set up as a shell corporation in Las Vegas and boasting Marvin Winick as one of its directors. The Winick family has recently gained a high profile — mainly due to the arrest in Thailand of his brother on international stock fraud charges.
It doesn’t pay to pass around this information, however, without getting DiCenzo’s version. And he readily accepts that those things are in his past.
As for the Winick connection, he says the business relationship lasted a maximum of five months, at a time several years ago when DiCenzo was far less focused in his dealings; back then, he was involved in a wide range of liquidation lines. It should be noted that another recent search engine "hit" for DiCenzo is an article from a London newspaper, noting how he backed out of negotiations about the Ford Talbotville factory because there were rumours of involvement by London Mayor Joe Fontana. Fontana's name has been linked with financial wrongdoing, and DiCenzo hinted he wants none of that.
For several years now, he told the Journal Argus, as a means of being able to maintain tighter control on such goings-on, he has pared down his business involvement to tires.
Which brings us to the 2004 charges. At that time, he was taking in used tires. And he learned yet another of the many lessons he has learned over 25 years following that path.
He signed a deal with a so-called “crumber” — a tire shredder who turns out recycled items like livestock mats and playground footing. The deal called for DiCenzo to provide a certain number of tires; he scaled up his intake, but the crumber never followed through.
“I couldn’t react quickly enough.”
Is there a risk that something similar will happen here? DiCenzo has repeatedly stated it would cost him money if he steps outside his business plan. And that plan involves immediately shipping any waste rubber to approved depots under the Ontario Tire Stewardship Program.
He adds “it’s impossible to step outside those parameters, the way the legislation is today.” McLlwain agrees that there are agencies in place to guard against such misdeeds.
The biggest safeguard, however, may be DiCenzo’s long history in the business. Rather than raising alarm bells about the possibility that tires will be stockpiled at the James Street South property, it's entirely possible that, instead, the "Google" discoveries under the Green Arc COO's name should offer a level of comfort that he learned some valuable lessons long before arriving in the Town Worth Living In.