Naval weapons station guards not paid

Seven On Your Side
October 31, 2011 3:18:40 PM PDT
They're a group of 46 security guards charged with protecting one of the most sensitive military installations in the area, the Earle Weapons Naval Station in Monmouth County.

Not only did a federal contractor default on their pay, but the federal government recouped the money but then sat on hundreds of thousands owed to the workers.

"Rough figures, six week pay would be roughly $6,000," said Bill Jeandron, Security Officer at Earle Weapons Naval Base.

"He owes me $14,236," said Captain Dawn Kelly, Earle Weapons Naval Station.

"He stole from us. We didn't even get an explanation," Jeandron said.

Captain Dawn Kelly and Bill Jeandron are two of 46 civilian employees who didn't get paid for their work as armed security guards at Earle Naval Weapons Station.

"We're there, we're the front lines. You come into my base, my guys are there. We're the first contact. So, if a terrorist comes in, my guys are there," Kelly said.

They worked for Myers Investigative and Security Services.

In August, Myers which was contracted by the U.S. Navy started bouncing payroll checks.

"How are you making ends meet if you haven't had your paychecks for almost a month and a half," Eyewitness News reporter Nina Pineda asked.

"I wasn't," Kelly said.

As a result, her home recently slipped into foreclosure.

The military cited Myers for defaulting on its Earle base contract and acted by holding back more than a $170,000 in payments to the private company.

But after Myers authorized the transfer, instead of the money making it to the unpaid guards, it's been collecting dust in the Federal Treasury for more than a month and half.

"But no one ever walked off the job," Pineda said.

"Never," they said.

To make matters worse, 7 On Your Side learned the Navy's own federal credit union began threatening to garnish current wages on employees who were overdrawn.

Eyewitness News brought that to U.S. Congressman Chris Smith's attention.

"I just got that information frankly through you. Thank you for that information. We are in contact with the credit union, we're going to insist very hard that they hold harmless every one of the people who might have an account," Rep. Smith said.

Representative Smith, had Myers Security investigated in 2008 when allegations were raised about the company's poor background checks and bookkeeping.

The Inspector General concluded Myers could fix its problems and continue to meet obligations.

"Once a red flag, you better watch for more red flags," Rep. Smith said.

With 46 Myers employees unpaid at the base, the Congressman is demanding accountability, but 7 On Your Side wanted the paychecks, still at the Labor Department first.

"The DOL sent out a letter to us and then we contacted you did they seem to move faster once you started pressing for this?" Pineda asked.

"In all candor, yes, and it shouldn't take that. That's unfair, it unconscionable and you know light a fire under yourself and get this done!" Rep. Smith said.

A DOL spokesperson told Eyewitness News they have begun contacting workers in an effort to expedite the processing time and get these employees paid.

After we alerted him to what was happening the Congressman persuaded the federal credit union to back off any negative credit reporting or garnishment of wages.