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Cleveland security company fined for failing to give background checks to new hires

Posted at 4:29 PM, Dec 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-14 18:27:17-05

A Cleveland private security company with a history of not following state regulations is again fined by the state’s Department of Public Safety for failing to have new hires register with the state.

According to records obtained by News 5, state regulators fined Metro Cleveland Security for allowing six former security guards to work despite not having their registration applications submitted to the state for approval.

State officials have fined the company $900. If company officials do not pay the fine and attend a mandatory training seminar, the state could revoke the company’s license, according to the final adjudication order.

The state inquiry followed a 5 On Your Side investigation, which found the company did not conduct a background check on one of its former security guards, Eddie Wilson III. In May, prosecutors charged Wilson with kidnapping, aggravated burglary, assault and weapons violations. Ashley Riley, 28, claimed Wilson kidnapped her at gunpoint and hit her in the chest.

“He hit me in my chest,” Riley said. “[When I came to], he said, ‘oh, you’re not dead yet?’”

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Wilson was employed by Metro Cleveland Security, which is located in the 5000-block of Memphis Avenue. Company officials told News 5 they did not conduct a background check on Wilson because he was a sheriff’s deputy. A loophole in state law does not require security companies to conduct background checks for law enforcement officers. If a background check would have been completed, it would have shown Wilson had a prior conviction for misdemeanor domestic violence.

“He would have never had the opportunity to do what he did had they done a simple background check, a simple verification,” Riley said.

Metro Cleveland Security is required to conduct background checks on new hires, but state investigators have determined the longtime security company hasn’t done so. The Department of Public Safety has fined the security company four times in five years.

On Wednesday, the state determined it was going to fine the company again. During an audit of company records, state regulators determined the company allowed six unregistered security guards to work a total of 15 days. In a response to the state’s filings, company officials claimed they didn’t violate state law, because all six of those employees quit or were fired within seven days of being hired. That didn’t matter, according to the state, because the registration applications for all six of those former employees were never filed.

According to state law, a newly-hired security guard can work a security detail so long as his or her application is processing and the client paying for the security has signed a waiver.

In their response to the state’s findings, company officials detailed how long some of the apparently unregistered security guards worked before quitting or being terminated. One of the former security guards quit upon learning he would have to submit fingerprints, presumably for a background check. However, according to the company’s own documents, that same former security guard was allowed to work three consecutive nights without a background check being conducted nor a registration application being submitted to the state.

When News 5 came by Metro Cleveland Security’s storefront on Memphis Ave. Thursday afternoon, an unidentified employee told News 5 to leave. Additionally, the employee said no one was available to comment.

In their response to the state’s findings, company officials denied any wrongdoing. They also said they firmly believed the state would dismiss all charges. The company has 15 days to appeal the state’s decision. If the decision stands, the company will be forced to pay a fine and attend a training seminar. If those conditions are not met, the company could have its license suspended.