Business law

DocGo used unregistered guards at immigrant hotels, officials in New York charged


An investigation by the State Department in New York found that more than 50 security guards assigned to protect asylum seekers bussed out of New York City by a troubled immigrant contractor were working without proper authorization.

On Friday, the department notified the two security firms that hired the guards — Trace Assets Protection Service LLC and Wawanda Investments and Security Company LLC — that they have two business days to respond or face possible suspension or revocation of their licenses to do business in New York. According to letters obtained by The New York Times.

Whitney A. said: Clark, the deputy secretary of state for business development, said in her letters to security firms that she initially concluded that the 52 guards — 16 in Erie County and 36 in Albany County — lacked a proper permit and were violating state law. . In some cases, it was not even clear if the guards were employees of the two security companies.

“Please note that the continued employment of the above individuals, unless they are properly registered with the department, is a continuing and willful violation of the law,” Ms Clarke wrote.

The two companies were subcontractors hired by DocGo, a medical services company that received a $432 million no-bid contract from New York City to help manage the influx of tens of thousands of asylum seekers.

The company’s work with immigrants has been under scrutiny since The New York Times mentioned in Its treatment of migrants: Some asylum seekers said they were given false work permit papers, told they would get legal aid that never materialised, and faced repeated threats, including from security guards, in hotels that looked more like halfway houses than boarding houses.

Police in the Buffalo suburb of Cheektowaga It has been investigated The company for possible involvement in a criminal investigation involving two sexual assaults in hotels where immigrants were staying. Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gold said on Friday that he had transferred the investigation to state authorities.

As the complaints piled up, the office of Attorney General Letitia James arrived announce Less than two weeks ago, she and DocGo were investigating a series of potential violations of state or federal laws regarding the treatment of people in her care.

Gov. Cathy Hochul also pledged to review DocGo’s performance in the wake of complaints about its performance, which prompted the State Department to investigate the security companies.

“In order to protect the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers, Governor Hochul has ordered a state review of DocGo’s contract to provide services to asylum seekers,” said Avi Small, a spokesperson for Ms. Hochul. “This review is ongoing.”

Asset Protection Service did not follow Respond to requests for comment on Friday. Wanda’s head of investigations, Daniel Wright, said he had not seen the State Department letter and was not involved in day-to-day operations, but told the Times that his firm was abiding by “the letter of the law”.

“Wawanda is a straightforward company,” Mr. Wright said. “We comply with all required paperwork for our company.”

In a statement released by a company spokesperson, DocGo said it launched an investigation after receiving the letter from the state on Friday. “No employees not registered with the state have been deployed to our sites” since receiving the letter, it said. DocGo said it requires subcontractors to maintain “appropriate credentials,” and pledged to replace any security firms found to be in violation of the law.

DocGo’s lucrative contract to help house and provide other services to homeless immigrants has raised eyebrows.

Until last year, the company focused mostly on providing COVID tests and vaccines under contracts with the city and its public hospital system. Her new responsibilities included overseeing reception operations at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan, the city’s main arrivals hub; Assistance in providing housing for immigrants; Transporting some northern areas by buses; And help them settle into their new lives.

Instead, some migrants said they were deceived and threatened.

In late July, The Times reported that a security guard working in Albany for Wawanda threatened immigrants staying at the Ramada Plaza Hotel.

The guard told his supervisor that he was going to “beat the (expletive)” of a Venezuelan immigrant and make him “sleep.” After The Times reported on the incident, DocGo said the guard was no longer employed at the hotel and that the company was evaluating new security suppliers for its upstate locations.

The company is now seeking a multi-billion dollar federal contract, the company’s CEO, Anthony Capone, recently admitted.

During an Aug. 9 interview at the Canaccord Genuity Growth Conference, a gathering of institutional investors, Mr. Capone said DocGo pursued the immigrant services contract with the city “because it gave us all the credibility to win Border Patrol.” The contract he described as a five-year agreement to provide medical services to immigrants.


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