Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Three Courthouse Guards Allege Sex, Drugs, and Weapon-Related Violations Inside San Francisco's Northern District Court

Posted By on Wed, Jun 10, 2009 at 2:00 PM

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Three guards employed by Akal Security, a prominent New Mexico-based corporation that contracts with federal courthouses around the country, are making some pretty shocking claims about their employer and workplace -- the Northern District Court in San Francisco.

Their complaint, filed recently in San Francisco Superior Court, says that inside the glistening walls of the federal courthouse at 450 Golden Gate Avenue, all kinds of safety violations involving weapons, drugs, sex and even illegal sales of pirated DVDs have gone down. 

More specifically, the three plaintiffs allege:

  • on-the-clock use of alcohol and narcotics by court security officers;
  • officers allowing some people (including a convicted felon) entry into the building without passing through the security check;
  • an officer engaging in sexual relations with a federal employee while on the job;
  • an intoxicated officer waving his firearm in the air;
  • rampant use -- and sharing -- of prescription narcotics by several guards;
  • delivery of an assault weapon to an officer who had ordered it for personal use;
  • sales of pirated DVD films in the courthouse.

The plaintiffs, Lydia Miller, Wesley Hester, and Miguel de Luna, all say that after attempting to report the security breaches they witnessed, they were punished with retaliation in the form of being called "snitches."

Miller claims that after she reported security violations, other guards began to harass her with sexual comments and snide remarks, including, "we have a rat, and it's not the animal kind."

De Luna says that after he reported violations, another security officer retaliated by removing a gun from his holster, waving it at de Luna, and saying, "Someone needs to wrap a bar of soap in a towel and have a party with you."  

Miller, Hester, and de Luna are suing Akal and their supervisor, Joseph Readman, for negligence, invasion of privacy, failure to prevent harassment and discrimination, hostile environment, and unlawful retaliation.

According to the complaint, Akal is the largest judicial security contractor in the United States, and it also holds multi-million and even billion-dollar contracts with U.S. Army bases, federal buildings, courthouse, and airports. In 2004, The New York Times profiled the unconventional company, which was founded by a charismatic and politically savvy Sikh spiritual leader, Yogi Bhajan, in 1980 -- and still occupies a five-acre plot, complete with a gold-domed temple, in Espanola, New Mexico.   

Regarding the lawsuit, Akal co-founder and president Daya Khalsa only had one comment for SF Weekly: "The complaint is completely baseless," he said.

H/T   |

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Ashley Harrell


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