Watching The Guards

The private security industry is fascinating, in part because it plays an important role in protecting nuclear plants, government offices and military bases.

Some of these companies have hundreds of millions in federal contracts. Prime contractors on government deals include Alaskan Native Corporations, which the Pentagon and other federal agencies seem to like a lot because they don't require competition. A subcontractor on some of those deals is the giant Wackenhut.

I was reminded about the industry this week when I came across a reference to a Justice Department probe out of Kansas, based on a whistleblower tip. That led me to a Justice press release, which spelled out allegations about how one firm, Akal Security Inc., did not train their hired guns the way they were supposed to.

You may not have heard about Akal, but it's a relatively big presence across the country. In the company's own words: "Today, Akal is the largest provider of contract Judicial Security services, protecting federal courthouses in 40 states. Akal specializes in providing security for critical federal government facilities, state and local government agencies and military installations."

In 2003, the company was awarded contracts worth up to $70 million to provide security at Army bases. In statements to the Albuquerque Journal in July, the New Mexico-based company acknowledged there were problems with the contract. Company officials said they settled to avoid costly lawsuits.

Akal agreed to "pay the United States $18 million to resolve allegations that it violated the terms of its contract to provide trained civilian guards at eight U.S. Army bases," the Justice statement said, adding that some of the company's guards did not get proper firearms and other training and that the company "failed to satisfy" man-hour requirements.

"We have done everything possible, since these violations were discovered, to voluntarily uncover and disclose all discrepancies," Akal Security president Daya Khalsa was quoted as saying in the Albuquerque paper. "In fact, it was Akal's own internal investigation that discovered some of the problems and reported them to the government."


By Robert O'Harrow |  August 15, 2007; 4:59 AM ET security
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Comments

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Your column might have added that this was, in fact, a qui tam (whistleblower) case under the False Claims Act. Also, the firm is one of the larger ones owned by Americans of South Asian heritage, India in this case.

The government and the government services industry benefits from False Claims Act settlements, even if the firms, like Akal, did not admit the allegations. Such cases encourages firms to deliver fully what they sold.

As citizen-taxpayers, it's too bad we can't get "money back" when federal employees, for lack of training or other reasons, don't deliver what they were paid to do. For example, a competent emergency response to Hurricane Katrina, or delivering to warfighters the body armor they need in a timely manner, rather than years late.

This is one secondary reason why, in a limited sense, contract support may be a much better buy for the government than using civil servants in msny functions. That is, the government can recover what it may have not received.

Posted by: Michael Lent | August 15, 2007 7:06 AM

Is it me or does everybody else think that Michael Lent's comments are more insightful and balanced than the main post? I bet O'Harrow had to look up 'qui tam' in the wikipedia.

Posted by: JoeyR | August 15, 2007 8:56 AM

What is even more interesting about Akal is the fact that they are owned by KITT, a subsidiary of the Sikh Darhma, a religious organization based in New Mexico. They run one of the largest government security contracting organizations from a religious compound, in ten doublewide trailers staffed by accolites in ceremonial robes and turbins.

I am not making this up.

Posted by: redline2868@netscape.net | August 16, 2007 12:11 AM

At least Akal is a US company. The other company mentioned, Wackenhut, is foreign-owned. See http://www.eyeonwackenhut.com/ for more.

Posted by: Nick | August 16, 2007 1:27 PM

I have a lot more evidence this co should be expose.My cell is 818-636-7941


18-Jul-07

Whistle Blowing Activates 2000-2007
Reported by Former Court Security Officer Lawrence J Marino


From approximately August 2000 until the time I was terminated on December 21, 2005 I reported what I believed to be reasonable cause, information that disclosed violations of State and Federal statue and violations of noncompliance of State and Federal rules and regulations regarding Akal Security and some employees of Akal Security.


I first reported and give to Acting US Marshal Toney Perez in 2000 information I had found researching on the internet showing Akal security may be or has been involve in criminal activity. He read what I give him and during our brief conversation I stated I will continue to look into Akal's background. His remarked to me that they should be exposed. (I believe Acting US Marshal Parez violated 18 U.S.C. 207(d) .The one year cooling off restriction. Perez went to work for Akal Security as a Director several weeks after retirement.)

I continued to investigate into Akal Security background on the company, owners and Directors.


June 3, 2002 I wrote a letter to Leonidas Ralph Mecham, Director of the Administrative Office of the US Courts, Washington D.C. I sent him a binder containing evidence showing some of the owners and principals used numerous AKA's and different SSN's a (Federal Violation). Also one of the Directors had been indicted by a Federal Grand Jury for attempting to smuggle 22 tons of Marijuana into the US, money laundering and attempting to obtain a grenade launcher and firms with silencers.

In addition, copies of newspaper articles showing Akal were being investigated for allegations that Akal officials were involved in criminal activity. Later on in my continued investigations, it was learned that both Akal officials Daya Singh Khalsa, VP and Shanti Kaur Khalsa, Director of Operations lied and withheld information during an official investigation into the above allegations. (Federal Violation)

At the end June 2002, Court Security Officer Pat Daley informed me that he was called into Jim Mosier's (Akal's site manager) office. Mosier asked him what I was up to and if there was something wrong with me. Mosier stated to Daley that Masaitis informed him (Mosier) that Mr. Mecham called him about my investigation on Akal Security. This was an Ethics Violation on Acting US Marshal Masaitis part. (Federal Violation of 29 CFR 2202.7 or CFR 2635.701-705). He revealed information to an Akal Manager without contacting me even after the FBI came to the courthouse and interviews me regarding Akal Security and he (Masaitis) was aware of this. (Masaitis retired from the USMS and its believe he has gone to work for Akal Security this would be a Poss. Federal Violation of 18 U.S.C. 207(d).

August 7 2002 -April 15, 2007, I was in contact with Sheryl Pierce, Contract Specialist, U.S. Marshals Service. I had informed her that Akal security site manager James Mosier were using approximately 5 Court Security Officer's to work out of their job classification, Akal was using Government offices space for there company business which the government does not provide and Akal was not in compliance with the contract. I had reasonable cause to believe this was in Violation of the Federal Acquisition Regulations and Fraud. Ms Pierce wanted to know what site this was happening at and she needed to look into it. Sometime after, I gave her the information,
an OIG audit team from Washington D.C.conducted in investigation and found violations of contract (non-compliance) that was reported to her.

I was the only one accused of whistle blowing to the misconduct and possible fraud by a number of the CSO's. I did not omit to whistle blowing.

April 18, 2003 I receive a Personal and Confidential letter from a member of Akal's Board member Kartar Singh Khalsa. He stated that he was informed of my allegations through the USMS in the Center District of California. Mr. Khalsa requested all my evidence be sent to him so he can conduct his own investigation. An investigation revealed that Mr. Khalsa also used several different SSN's. (Federal Violation) I did not make contact with this person or send him any of my documents.

Again, I believe the US Marshals service gave Akal Security unauthorized information and they still did not contact me to see if there was any other DOJ agency that I had contacted to see if there was an investigation being conducted on an Akal Security. . (Federal Violation of 29 CFR 2202.7 or CFR 2635.701-705).

In 2003, I contacted Joan Leal field Representative of the Ca Department of Consumer Affairs Bureau Security Investigative Service. I informed her that I believe Akal Security did not have a private patrol operator's license in the State California and some sites that an Akal Security used for Human Resources, payroll and administration did not have a branch office certificate in Violation of CA Business and Professional code.

Ms Leal investigated my complaint regarding Akal Security in violation of California B & P code. She notified me that she completed her investigation and found out that Akal Security needed a private patrol operator's license and contacted Tony Perez at his office in Montebello and get a PPO license. Tony Perez the former Acting US Marshal eventually took the state exam for a private patrol operator's license and was then the qualifying manager for Akal Security.

Other CA B&P code Violations that have been reported to the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services regarding Akal Security not having an issued Branch Office Certificate, Court Security Office's do not have a Weapons or Guard Card in violation of State Law.

In 2003-2005 the below information was reported to both the Bureau of Security and Investigatative Services and the OIG that certain CSO's workings in the Command Center are conducting NCIC, JDIC and CLETS checks for the USMS. This is unauthorized by the LA County Sheriff's they are not train or certified. This is a misdemeanor Ca PC violation.

Also these same individuals use government equipment to listen in on CSO's conversation, take photographs using government camera's of CSO's for there enjoyment and to spy on CSO's they don't like and to use these to report them Akal's site manager Jim Mosier and for discipline purposes. Violation 5 CFR part 2635.704 Use of Government Property.

14 Oct. 2004 I made a complaint to the Office of Inspector General in Glendale. I give a written complaint about Waste, Fraud, Abuse and Misconduct to Special Agent Jim Kirdar. See Complaint.

21 Oct. 2004 I sent a letter to Congressman Buck McKeon office about my concern and my investigation about Akal Security background. See Letter

5 May 2005 Made complaint against three CSO's regarding them making false statements, using government equipment to spy on employees. I believe I give this state to OIG Special Agent Jim Kirdar . See Statement

15 Aug 2005- Emailed Sheryl Pierce from Iraq for status on my complaint against Akal employee's misconduct and Waste, Fraud, Abuse issues. See Letter

06 Sept 2005: Made complaint to John Kraus and Susan Erickson, Contract Officers, USMS, regarding cover up investigation on my complaint regarding misconduct. See letter.

23 Sept 2005: Submitted bid request for shifts by seniority .My request was denied even through I had 5 years seniority. Violation of CBA See Letter

21 Dec 2005 Terminated from my job after working Nine years as a Court Security officer for drinking alcohol on duty on my first day back from being deployed to the Middle East with the US Army.

Assist Chief Tim Miller USMS, COTR (Contracting Officer's Technical Representative) was responsible for Monitoring the Contract. I reported his name to the OIG and mention something regarding the COTR to Sheryl Pierce because of his neglect to his job as a COTR.

Attached is a list of Agencies I contacted with regard to the above.

To the best of my knowledge, the above information is correct to the best of my recollection.

Posted by: Larry Marino | August 20, 2007 11:49 PM

>> At least Akal is a US company. The other company mentioned, Wackenhut, is foreign-owned. See http://www.eyeonwackenhut.com/ for more.

Hi Nick. So nice to see the SEIU continuing its smear campaign. Yes, Group 4 Securicor owns Wackenhut. Why not go on and admit that they are based in the United Kingdom? Everyone knows you can't trust those crazy Brits. Securitas is owned from Sweden. Can't trust them either, they're not Amurrican.

So why don't you go and pick on American-owned Allied-Barton for a change? Or perhaps Guardsmark. Just a thought.

Posted by: Andrew | August 23, 2007 12:30 PM

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