It’s Cinco de Mayo. From his home in Austin, Hamic has set up a sort of control room. He has an operative on the ground watching Legit Security’s Albuquerque office from across the street, snapping photos of a moving truck loading up furniture. The operative emails them by iPhone and Hamic posts them immediately.
For days, Hamic has been receiving calls from Legit employees who complain they haven’t been paid in four weeks—not a surprising development, he says, because a group of employees are currently suing the company for back pay.
But this morning, the phone rings off the hook and Hamic’s email is flooded: Legit is closing up shop and handing out flyers instructing employees to submit time sheets and to reapply for their jobs with ICU Security, a new and unlicensed company. ICU has taken over Legit’s outstanding contracts.
Hamic has been amassing an enormous case against Legit for months, much of which he’d like to use to testify against Legit in the fraud and embezzlement case scheduled to be heard in Second Judicial District Court. (Because of the research he has compiled on his blog, Hamic considers himself an expert witness.)
In July 2005, a San Diego-based corporation called SkillStorm hired Gilbert Baca to run its Albuquerque security franchise. A year later, the company fired Baca, alleging the manager had billed SkillStorm’s payroll department for employees who didn’t exist and deposited checks from clients into his own account. SkillStorm also alleges Baca used its literature to secure contracts for a new security firm—Legit Security—which Baca formed with Joe Stidham, the police chief for Bosque Farms. Baca did not return SFR’s calls and Stidham declined to comment because of the litigation.
Hamic also wants to testify in any criminal proceedings against Legit, should they come to pass. Bernalillo 2nd Judicial District Attorney Kari Brandenburg says her office has “boxes and boxes” of evidence, but the criminal investigation of Baca and Stidham “probably won’t be completed anytime soon.”
As his operative passes time with a trip to McDonald’s, Hamic tracks down information on the new company, suspicious that Legit has simply reformed as ICU. Within minutes, he’s got the names of ICU’s principal owners, begins mapping relationships and tracks the company to an address formerly used by Legit.
Hamic’s operative guns it to the new office, taking instructions from Hamic over the phone, which is wired through the SUV’s dashboard computer and speakers.
The address turns out to be Office Alternatives, a business that offers a temporary front to small and mobile businesses. According to the brochure, office space may be rented for “as little as $10 an hour.” ICU is only using the company’s answering service.
Hamic’s operative snaps pictures of the two Legit patrol cars parked in front of the building.
On the other side of Albuquerque, the Private Investigations Advisory Board meets.