Vending company beneath marijuana grow site has city, county contracts
A vending machine company based in a Lawrenceville warehouse where police busted a major marijuana growing operation sells snacks and sodas to Pittsburgh and Allegheny County government workers as part of a business network spanning six counties, records show.
Complete Vending Services Inc. has operated coin-operated vending machine services for the city for more than a decade, according to contracts in the City Controller's Office.
Pittsburgh police found 325 marijuana plants worth an estimated $500,000 on the second floor of the Complete Vending warehouse on Davison Street when they investigated a report of what turned out to be a burglary in progress early May 29.
The city shares a percentage of revenue from vending machines with vendors such as Complete Vending, mayoral spokesman Tim McNulty said.
In a 2007 contract, Complete Vending owner John Balsamico wrote that the company has paid approximately $25,000 per year to the city.
An employee who answered the office door on Friday said Balsamico was not there and she declined comment. Police interviewed Balsamico after finding the plants but have not charged him, court records show.
McNulty said Finance Department records show the city received $670 in 2012 and $691 in 2013 from Complete Vending, but he couldn't say from how many machines.
He is not aware of any plan to review the Complete Vending contract because of the drug investigation. The city can cancel a contract with 30 days' notice, McNulty said.
The controller's office found records of payments totaling $5,585 since 2007, but Deputy Controller Doug Anderson said that includes money only from vending machines in the controller's office and a City Council lunchroom on the fifth floor of the City-County Building.
In a 2011 contract, Complete Vending wrote that since 1997, it has provided vending services to city-owned buildings Downtown, police stations, parks and pools.
It said it had contracts with Allegheny County Parks for the North Park ice rink in 2005 and the South Park BMX & Skate Park in 2008, and service contracts with “major apartment complexes,” schools and colleges in Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler, Beaver, Westmoreland and Washington counties.
Documents list Balsamico as the company's president and sole shareholder. Its company profile says: “CVS has a well-organized warehouse, which it believes promotes a steady stream of recurring customers.”
Police arrested three men accused of trying to steal the marijuana. Michael Snee, 31, Shaun Hollis, 30, and Fredrick Jeffcoat, 34, all of McKeesport are charged with burglary, conspiracy, carrying an unlicensed gun, possession with intent to deliver and possessing an instrument of crime.
Their preliminary hearings are set for Wednesday.
Public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said police are still investigating.
Neighbors said new tenants began renting the second floor of the building about six months ago.
Margaret Harding is a Trib Total Media staff writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Environmental watchdog sues world’s largest steelmaker over Pennsylvania pollution
- Rossi: Cole is simply not good enough for Pirates
- Ligonier Township authority plans line flushing
- Penguins recall Maatta in time for season opener in Dallas
- New-look Steelers secondary is gaining some cohesion
- Coal industry seeks unusual partner in UN green climate fund
- Mecca pilgrimage death toll at 1,399
- Peters Township’s Bruce captures WPIAL Class AAA golf title
- FBI, other authorities serve search warrant on methadone clinic near Uniontown
- Opening season away from home may be a good thing, Penguins say
- Rostraver garbage collection vote delayed