Firm charged with fraud, bribery

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Monday, March 1, 2004

NEWARK, N.J. - A security company that provided guard services to many of New York and New Jersey’s airports and major thoroughfares was hit in early February with charges that it had bribed officials for security contracts and staffed jobs with convicted felons.

The husband and wife team that led Haynes Security, President John J. D’Agostino and Chief Executive Officer Carol A. D’Agostino, as well as the company itself, was indicted on bribery, theft and conspiracy charges that stem from an investigation by the state’s Special Prosecutions Bureau.

The investigation, which began in late 2002, found that Haynes employed more than 60 individuals with criminal records as security guards. Haynes had contracts totaling more than $12 million for John F. Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark Liberty International airports through the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey and through Continental Airlines, which uses Newark airport as its hub.

The company is no longer providing security in Newark and its contracts at other New York airports are under review, officials said.

According to John Hag-erty, spokesperson for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, Haynes failed to fingerprint thousands of security personnel and submit that information to state police for criminal background checks, as required by New Jersey’s Private Detective Act. That law prohibits security firms from using employees with criminal histories as security guards.

“We are not alleging that this was an isolated incident within Haynes Security, but there is no ongoing investigation that any other security firms in the state was involved in the alleged illegal activity,” Hagerty said.

Investigators suspect that the company didn’t want to pay the $76 fee charged by state police to process a fingerprint search as part of a criminal background check for the qualification process.

Also charged in the indictment was Benjamin R. Riggi, a manager with Newark-based utility company PSE&G, who allegedly accepted a $7,500 loan for giving complimentary reports and approvals on Haynes’ contract with the utility. The indictment also alleges that Haynes Security and the D’Agostinos paid for $1,000 in home repairs and installed an alarm system at the home of a manager at Continental Airlines, who is unnamed and not charged in the indictment. Haynes Security also operates an electronic security division.

“The alleged actions of Haynes had the potential to impact public safety, depending on the assignments of the security guards,” Hagerty said.

Attorneys for Haynes could not be reached for comment by press time, but said in published reports that the company planned to fight the charges. The D’Agostinos face a minimum of 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges.