SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A private security company that provides guards for most of the nation's federal courthouses has agreed to pay nearly $1.9 million to settle allegations that its workers deliberately conducted lax firearms tests of guards in Northern California, the government announced Thursday.
The U.S. Department of Justice had alleged that range masters employed by New Mexico-based Akal Security Inc., which has a $1.6 billion contract with the U.S. Marshals Service to manage court security in all but five states, gave guards extra time to complete a battery of tests measuring their gun skills.
In some cases, according to the government, the employees did not adhere to the time limits because they were afraid the guards would not pass and told the Marshals Service the test-takers were qualified.
"Those who guard federal courthouses not only have a duty to properly bill for their services, but also to ensure the safety of the individuals who work at and visit their federal courthouses," Stuart F. Delery, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Division, said. "As this settlement demonstrates, there will be a steep price to pay for the failure to satisfy these important obligations."
Akal Security President Daya Khalsa did not immediately respond to a telephone call seeking comment.
The Justice Department said that as far as it knows, only guards who worked at federal courthouses in San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose were given the bad tests between 2007 and last year.
Akal Security is part of a collection of businesses and non-profits founded by the late Sikh religious leader Harbhajan Singh Puri that also included Yogi Tea and the Golden Temple food company. Sikh Dharma International, a religious community he founded, is headquartered in Espanola, N.M., along with the security firm.