A&T Security: Suddenly NOT Security After All

Editor Note: This is a supplemental report to our exclusive investigation into the use of tax money to pay an unlicensed security company with connections to a Chicago cop for private patrols in Lakeview. See our main report HERE.

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The contract between the City of Chicago and nonprofits that manage SSA tax money is very clear about the hiring of security contractors:

“If the [nonprofit] subcontracts for security services, the Subcontractor shall be a Security Firm certified by the State of Illinois and the Security Firm’s employees shall be licensed by the State of Illinois. The [nonprofit], upon entering into any subcontract with a Security Firm, shall furnish the [SSA Commission] and the [City] with a copy of the subcontract for their approval. The City expressly reserves the right to approve all Security Firm subcontracts.”

So, how did A&T Security LLC, a company that is not certified by the state wind up getting over $59,000 of tax money to provide security services? And why would the city approve of the company’s hiring if A&T is not licensed to contract security services in Illinois?

CWBChicago asked those questions repeatedly during our investigation. And the answers we received from the city and the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce (LVECC) are doozies:

First, the city said, LVECC never signed a physical contract with A&T Security, so there was never a contract to present to the city for review.

Then, the city claimed, A&T Security didn’t provide security all. Rather, A&T “acted as Community Ambassadors that were unarmed.”

Their vests say “security” and at least two of them are carrying handguns. But when we asked to see the security contractor’s license, the city insisted that these men were “unarmed Community Ambassadors.” | Chicago Tribune screengrab

Paying over $59,000 to a company named “A&T Security” for work invoiced as “security,” “guards,” and “security guards” would seem to be straightforward evidence that LVECC and SSA #8 expected to receive security services in exchange for the taxpayer’s money.

Armed or not, state law defines security services very clearly, regardless of what the end user calls them.

And LVECC’s and Martino’s own words about A&T’s services are clear about what was being provided.

In December 2014, a LVECC newsletter announced the addition of security patrols:

“Lake View East Chamber of Commerce and Special Service Area #8 has acquired additional security for our area every Thursday-Sunday for the month of December until Christmas Eve.”

A&T Security received $3,550 for that “additional security,” according to accounting records reviewed by CWBChicago.

The so-called “Community Ambassadors” were referred to as “the private security team” hired to “monitor the business district” in SSA #8’s meeting minutes from 2015.

In March 2016, SSA #8’s meeting minutes include the following entry:

“CRIME and SECURITY: We will start-up our private security patrol again in the Spring to walk the district and monitor crime in the district.”

Once again, the “private security patrol” was provided by A&T, according to accounting records.

In a video recorded by the Chicago Tribune last July, Martino refers to having a “security budget” that pays for “security officers.” The “unarmed Community Ambassadors” are shown wearing reflective vests that say “Security Lakeview East SSA #8.” Two of the four “unarmed Community Ambassadors” were armed with handguns.

In correspondence with CWBChicago, Martino called the Tribune story a “photo shoot.”

A&T Security LLC was formed on October 7, 2013, as AT&T Security LLC to provide “security services” and “effective security for commercial and residential” clients, according to state paperwork. The company adopted its current name in November 2014. But, regulators say, the company has never been certified to contract security services in Illinois.

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About CWBChicago 4275 Articles
CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com