February 23, 2018 02:50 PM
A private security firm fired days before Super Bowl LII earlier this month had previously hired employees with "substantial criminal" histories, and failed repeatedly to conduct background checks, according to state records obtained by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
Entertainment Protection Group (EPG) was fired by the Super Bowl Host Committee earlier this month for employing at least one convicted felon, according to multiple sources.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS was first to report the company's termination. The company assisted in crowd control at Super Bowl-related events downtown.
EPG was able to provide security services despite previously failing to run background checks in a timely manner on 86 out of its 101 employees in 2015, according to records from the state's Private Detective and Protective Agent Services Board.
The board licenses private security firms.
Board records also show "some employees were not background checked for a couple of years."
The Host Committee would not provide specific details as to how security firms were vetted prior to the Super Bowl, but issued a statement that read in part:
"EPG was retained in consultation with local law enforcement, and contractually obligated to provide services in accordance with all state and local laws and licensing."
In a disciplinary review three years ago, board member Steve Wohlman stated "some employees had been hired and had a substantial criminal history," and that he "had never had a situation like this that was this bad," according to the meeting's minutes.
Erik Bergling, the company's founder and CEO, admitted in 2015 that employees had been put in the field before background checks had been completed.
He stated "things had fallen through the cracks" because the company had expanded so rapidly since first obtaining a license in 2009.
Bergling did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday.
"Major red flags were identified," Richard Hodson, the board's chair, said Thursday about EPG's previous failures.
Hodson said the company was fined $499 in 2015, and told to make sure the problems were not repeated.
"Presumably they used that time . . . to get all the discrepancies, irregularities, gaps, cleaned up," Hodson said.
EPG has provided security services at the annual Crashed Ice event in St. Paul, as well as events at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, according to state records and the company's website.
Representatives for Crashed Ice and the Target Center have not responded to inquiries about EPG's future involvement in those events.
EPG is still licensed to provide security services in Minnesota.
Joe Augustine and Brett Hoffland
Updated: February 23, 2018 02:50 PM
Created: February 22, 2018 06:56 PM
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