NY Officials Allege DocGo Used Unregistered Guards at Migrant Hotels

23:47 05.09.2023

An investigation conducted by the New York Department of State has revealed that more than 50 unlicensed security guards were hired by DocGo, the contractor responsible for handling migrant services in New York City. The subcontractors hired by DocGo, namely Trace Assets Protection Service and Wawanda Investigations and Security Company, were issued warnings by the Department of State, which oversees security licensing. The companies were given until Wednesday to provide proper paperwork or face possible suspension or revocation of their licenses.

Whitney Clark, the deputy secretary of state for business development, wrote letters to the subcontractors stating that preliminary findings from the audit indicated that these individuals were providing security services without appropriate authorization and in violation of the law. Clark further alleged that Wawanda Investigations had 36 unlicensed guards, while Trace Assets had 16 guards without proper paperwork.

The scrutiny comes after Governor Kathy Hochul ordered a review of services provided by DocGo, following a series of complaints. A spokesperson for the governor stated that the review is ongoing to ensure the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers. DocGo, a medical services company, obtained a $432 million contract from New York City to provide medical care, housing, and food to migrants. The company then contracted Trace Assets Protection Service and Wawanda Investigations to provide security for hotels in Albany, Schenectady, and Erie counties.

The letters issued by the Department of State were first reported by The New York Times. This latest revelation adds to the growing concerns surrounding DocGo's services for asylum seekers. The company's CEO expressed hopes that the NYC contract would help secure a $4 billion deal with the federal government to provide medical care for asylum seekers in the initial days after they cross the border.

In response to the allegations, a spokesperson for DocGo stated that upon receiving the letters, the company launched an immediate investigation. They claimed that no personnel without proper registration had been deployed to work at their sites since then. The spokesperson added that if the investigation substantiates the claims, immediate corrective action will be taken, including the replacement of any security companies found in violation.

It is worth noting that DocGo is also facing a probe by the state Attorney General's office. The company's treatment of migrants has come under intense scrutiny, with reports of fake work authorization papers, unfulfilled promises of legal help, and threats from security guards at hotels where migrants are staying. The Cheektowaga police have even investigated the company for potentially interfering with a criminal investigation of two sexual assaults at these hotels.

The Office of Attorney General Letitia James announced an investigation into DocGo for possible violations of state and federal laws regarding the treatment of individuals in its care. This, coupled with the complaints and the review ordered by Governor Hochul, has raised concerns about the company's performance and the quality of services provided to asylum seekers.

Neither DocGo nor Trace Assets Protection Service responded immediately to requests for comment. Daniel Wright, the president of Wawanda Investigations, mentioned that he had not seen the Department of State's letter and emphasized his company's compliance with all required paperwork.

DocGo's contract with the city to provide services to asylum seekers has raised eyebrows, particularly due to the company's lack of experience in this field. Previously, DocGo primarily focused on providing Covid tests and vaccinations under contracts with the city and public hospital system. However, their responsibilities now include overseeing intakes at the Roosevelt Hotel, providing housing, busing migrants upstate, and assisting them in settling into their new lives.

The incidents of mistreatment and deception reported by The New York Times have cast a shadow over DocGo's operations. The company's CEO, Anthony Capone, recently revealed that they hope the NYC contract will establish credibility to secure a five-year contract with the Border Patrol, worth billions of dollars, to provide medical services to migrants.

As the investigation into the unlicensed security guards unfolds, the future of DocGo's contract with New York City remains uncertain. The ongoing reviews and probes will determine the necessary actions to address the concerns surrounding the treatment of asylum seekers and ensure the provision of appropriate services.

/ Tuesday, September 5, 2023, 11:47 PM /

themes:  New York City  New York (state)

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