Bribery and private security

 - 
12/04/2007
I try not to get too much into the guarding market, except for when it overlaps with systems integrators and installers, but this is a crazy story. Many security firms work with the GSA, and it seems as though the GSA isn't always on the straight and narrow. Here's the nut graph: According to court papers filed in the case, [Michael] Holiday, a former Montgomery [Maryland] police officer, plied a government contracting official with $100,000 in cash and paid for her $7,000 Caribbean cruise. In exchange, prosecutors said, the General Services Administration employee granted favorable treatment in the bidding process to Holiday's company. Holiday's firm, Holiday International Security, went on to acquire $130 million in government contracts. Pretty good return on that $107,000 investment, no? Among the agencies that awarded contracts to Holiday International Security was the Social Security Administration, which continues to use guards from the renamed company at its Woodlawn headquarters and several other buildings in the Baltimore region, federal officials said. ... The Silver Spring company, which changed its name to USProtect when it was sold in May 2003, provides armed and unarmed security guards for 18 federal agencies at 120 installations in 32 states and territories. So, I'm guessing the company won't now lose all of its contracts. While the prosecutor called the case the largest government corruption case in Maryland history, it's not clear that you can really ascribe all $130 million in contracts to the bribery. Theoretically, Holiday/USProtect were really providing the services, so maybe it's only the amount of the bribe that should be evaluated. That's semantics, though. In general, I love it when real life is just like the movies: Prosecutors allege that the former GSA contracting official, Dessie Ruth Nelson, 65, of Oakland, Calif., received a shopping bag filled with $35,000 in cash and an envelope stuffed with $10,000 from Holiday, in addition to the cruise, among other benefits. In turn, between 2000 and 2003, Nelson steered millions of dollars worth of contracts to Holiday's company, federal authorities charged. I mean, where did that happen? In her office? In a shopping mall parking lot? Did Holiday just waltz into the GSA with $35,000 in a shopping bag and hand it over like he had just picked something up at the grocery store for her? Oh, and I can't believe this paragraph was left for last: In addition to the bribery and tax charge, Holiday also admitted as part of his guilty plea that in April 2004, he sent a video file depicting a young girl engaging in sex with an adult male to an undercover FBI agent in New York. He could be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison for bribery and 20 years for transporting child pornography. Holy smokes! So, the guy's involved with Maryland's largest-ever corruption case AND he's into kiddie porn? Does anybody else feel like this is bad PR for the private security marketplace? Wow.