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[ATG] AG Zoeller: Board orders unlicensed security guards to Cease and Desist for deceiving public, posing as police
Start Date: 3/14/2016 All Day
End Date: 3/14/2016
Entry Description

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indiana Private Investigator and Security Guard Licensing Board ordered unlicensed security guards operating in Boone, Johnson, Marion and Morgan counties to Cease and Desist, following allegations brought by Attorney General Greg Zoeller’s Office that the individuals were deceiving the public by offering security guard agency services without the required licensing, certification and training, and by posing as legitimate law enforcement officers.

Indiana law requires security guard agencies and private investigator firms to be licensed and meet certain training, bonding, and other standards in order to uphold public health and safety. Additionally, it is a crime – a level 6 Felony – to deceive the public by impersonating legitimate police agencies or officers.

“It is important that the public can clearly identify law enforcement officials and licensed security guards who are trained and equipped to protect themselves and the public,” Zoeller said. "Having unlicensed individuals out in the field practicing as security guards creates confusion with our law enforcement officers should an incident occur and places the general public at risk, as well as deceives customers expecting a certain level of protection."

During the course of four hearings in Indianapolis, the Board ordered the following unlicensed security guard agencies to immediately stop advertising themselves and acting as security guard agencies or private investigator firms without the required licensure. 

The Board also voted to refer two of these cases – Abney and Robinson – to county prosecutors for criminal consideration regarding police impersonation allegations.

  • Jason Abney, doing business as Marion County Jail Bonds – Abney was found to have engaged in unlicensed activities, including advertising himself and acting as a private investigator firm and a security guard agency without any licenses to do so legally. He was also found to have employed his unlicensed family members in this line of work. He operated in Marion and Morgan counties. Part of the State’s case included presenting evidence supporting Abney’s knowing, intentional, or reckless disregard for the licensing requirements.  Additionally, the State presented evidence tending to show Abney impersonating law enforcement officials while engaged in these unlicensed activities.
  • Sean Robinson, doing business as Jagged Empire Upfitting – Robinson worked as an unlicensed security guard for Security Watch Alert Team, before the AG’s Office took action to strip the company of its license in Jan. 2015 due to its employees impersonating police and advertising services it did not or could not legally provide. The State has since reached settlement with Security Watch Alert Team for a permanent revocation of Security Watch Alert Team’s Security Guard Agency License. Robinson was found to have continued to act as an unlicensed security guard agency, engaging in police impersonation and deceiving the public. Robinson operated in Marion and Boone counties.
  • Melvin Hall, Sr. – Hall, Sr., is accused of acting as a security guard agency without a license in Marion County. Hall, Sr., is the father of Melvin E. Hall II, who the AG’s Office took action against in 2015 for police impersonation perpetrated by his company Urban Tactical Response Agency, LLC., and subsequently against Melvin E. Hall, II, as an unlicensed security guard agency. The State reached an agreement with Hall, Sr., where Hall, Sr., agreed to an Order to Cease and Desist his activities as an unlicensed security guard agency.
  • Paul Vitti, f/k/a Sheldon Hankins, doing business as All County Security – Vitti was arrested by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department under the Security Guard Licensing statutes. Concurrent investigation by the State yielded a Motion for an Order to Cease and Desist, which was set for hearing at which Vitti failed to appear and the Board issued a Notice of Proposed Default. Vitti has an active arrest warrant in connection with the criminal matter, when Vitti, who after being released on his own recognizance, failed to appear for the criminal proceedings.

The Attorney General’s Office collaborated with local, county and other state law enforcement agencies on these and similar cases.

Zoeller worked with the Indiana General Assembly this year to pass legislation, Senate Enrolled Act 174, which closes gaps in state law that made it difficult for the Attorney General’s Office and other law enforcement agencies to prosecute police impersonators who deceive and put the public at risk.

Zoeller thanked the bill’s author State Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) and the bill’s sponsor State Rep. David Frizzell (R-Indianapolis) for their work on this issue.

Zoeller also thanked Deputy Attorney General Derek Peterson and Investigator Ed Hutchinson for their work on these cases.

Members of the public can confirm that a security guard agent or agency is licensed by contacting the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency at (317) 232-2980. Members of the public can verify that someone is actually a police officer by calling their local law enforcement agency's non-emergency phone number to verify that an officer is at their location. For IMPD, that number is (317) 327-3811.

To file a complaint against a license holder with the Attorney General’s Office, call 800-382-5516 or visit www.IndianaConsumer.com.
Contact Information:
Name: Molly Gillaspie
Phone: 317-232-0168
Email: molly.gillaspie@atg.in.gov
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