Team 10 investigates accusations against Aggressive Action Private Security

Source says some guards armed with water pistols

SAN DIEGO - If you visit the website for Aggressive Action Private Security, on display is a description and photographs of what appears to be a sophisticated security company offering a wide range of services.

The firm provides security for large apartment complexes across the San Diego region. There are hundreds of tenants who assume their security and safety is assured by the professional staff at Aggressive.

However, Team 10 was contacted by former employees of the firm who allege the company engages in unethical business practices.

Their complaints range from Aggressive's personnel practices to their claims of expertise in private security. Some of those accusations are in a lawsuit filed by the former employees. Read the lawsuit: http://bit.ly/1avWZQp

The suit says, in part, that the company is "engaging in systematic and continuous violation of the law" by, among other things, "employing security guards who do not possess the applicable licenses, and providing firearms to guards who do not have a permit to posses firearms ..."

The former employees' attorney, Scott Savary of Mitchell and Gilleon, told 10News, "They engage in cost-saving actions, for them, that are against the law."

The lawsuit alleges the company does not pay overtime, it pays guards in cash under the table and some guards are double-dipping -- that is, collecting welfare checks and pay as guards.

The sources also told Team 10 the company recruits immigrants that will not complain about the conditions.

Team 10 went undercover to watch Aggressive's security personnel at work. At one location, Team 10 saw an unlicensed guard on patrol, according to former employee Laith Jajou, who was riding in the undercover van.

In the undercover van with Team 10 producer Ellen McGregor and photographer Arie Thanasoulis, Jajou was helping confirm the identities of security personnel working at the apartment complexes.

A check of state records confirmed the guard did not have a license. When Team 10 called Aggressive and asked them about this employee, they never responded.

However, a short time later, on the state website that lists licensed security guards, the employee's name appeared. His name was found on the Department of Consumer Affairs' Bureau of Security and Investigative Services website.

One source for this story asked to remain anonymous because he's moved on to a security job elsewhere. He provided Team 10 with photos of his time with coalition forces in Iraq where U.S. service personnel trained him in security methods. He told Team 10 he was thankful for the training and said the training saved his life.

He said he came to Team 10 because "enough is enough" when describing the business practices of Aggressive Action Private Security. He claimed the owners would remind the guards daily to make up incidents and situations while on patrol and submit them in a written report. Both sources told Team 10 the purpose of the reports was to create an illusion of crime or potential crime at properties they patrol.

Jajou said he was told to carry a gun. When he protested, he said his supervisor told him, "Don't worry, we will cover you."

Jajou also said some employees carried fake guns, like water pistols that were purchased at Walmart. The reason, both sources told Team 10, is because the company could make more money providing armed security than they could unarmed guards.

Mena Salama is listed as the owner, but when Team 10 called last week to speak to him, Team 10 investigators were told he wasn't the owner.

However, Team 10 believes Salama and his partner, George Ghaley, both still run the firm.

No one from the firm would speak to Team 10 in regards to these allegations, instead an attorney representing Aggressive Action Private Security contacted Team 10 and asked not to contact the firm anymore.

The attorney denied all the allegations and told Team 10 his clients and the disgruntled former security guards had agreed to a confidential settlement.

The attorney's entire statement is included with this report: http://bit.ly/1fJpp9s

INVESTIGATION NOTES:

-- In the player above, watch Team 10's undercover video as they observed an apartment complex as part of the investigation into Aggressive. Additionally, Team 10 visited several other locations in an undercover van in producing the story, including: Bay Pointe Apartments (3866 Ingraham St; San Diego 92109), Shady Lane Apartments (380 Shady Lane; El Cajon 92021), Eaves Rancho San Diego Apartments (2450 Hilton Head Place; El Cajon 92019)

-- Team 10 research shows the management of Aggressive also owns or controls other security firms in California. The information Team 10 developed was provided to investigators at the state Department of Consumer Affairs. The department also had a copy of the civil lawsuit against Aggressive that lays out some of the allegations of the illegal practices of the firm.

-- The state Department of Consumer Affairs is the umbrella agency for monitoring security firms in California. Team 10 alerted the agency to its investigation when it began over a year ago. Team 10 had former employees willing to provide the agency information about Aggressive. So far, the agency has not contacted any of these potential sources.

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