The New York State Department of State says more than 50 security guards hired to work at upstate hotels housing asylum seekers are doing so without proper authorization.
Two letters obtained by Spectrum News 1 and first reported by the New York Times, were sent Friday to Trace Assets Protection Service and Wawanda Investigations.
The companies were contracted by DocGo, a medical-services company being paid $432 million by New York City to provide services to migrants. Copies of the letters also were sent to DocGo officials.
This comes after Gov. Kathy Hochul said she asked her team to look into the services DocGo is providing.
“To protect the safety and well-being of all New Yorkers, Governor Hochul ordered a State review of DocGo’s contract to provide services to asylum seekers and that review is ongoing,” a spokesperson for the governor said in a statement.
In the letters, Deputy Secretary of State for Business Development Whitney Clark writes the department is auditing security services to make sure they are in compliance with state law.
The hotels are located in Albany, Erie and Schenectady counties.
Clark writes that 36 Wawanda Investigations employees and 15 Trace Assets employees are working without proper authorization and in violation of the law. The reasons range from employees being unregistered, not eligible for employment or not associated with the company.
The Department of State oversees security licensing and under state law, companies are required to check with the state to make sure employees are in compliance.
The letters give both companies two days to respond with evidence proving compliance in order to keep the employees working.
Wawanda Investigations declined to comment when reached by phone Friday night.
Spectrum News 1 reached out to Trace Assets but have yet to hear back. A DocGo spokesperson says the company acted swiftly upon receiving the letters.
"Our operations team has confirmed that since receiving the letter, no personnel who are not registered with the state have been deployed to work at our sites," the statement reads. "Our top priority is the health and safety of the asylum seekers in our care, and we have strict requirements in all vendor contracts, mandating that all staff hold appropriate credentials and registrations. Should the investigation substantiate these claims, we will take immediate corrective action, including the replacement of any security companies found in violation. We work with multiple security vendors and have a substantial network of state-registered, subcontracted resources ready to fill in at our Albany and Buffalo emergency sites as needed. Additionally, many of our Upstate emergency locations are also protected by National Guard members."
According to the letters, Wawanda is providing security at the Ramada Plaza in Albany, the Best Western in Colonie, Holiday Inn Express in Albany and Super 8 in Rotterdam. The letters outline Trace Assets providing security at the Quality Inn and two Best Westerns, all in Cheektowaga.
The town of Cheektowaga is currently suing those hotels, arguing they're operating illegally as shelters and must be ordered to submit site plans and special use permits.
Last month, New York Attorney General Letitia James launched an investigation into DocGo amid allegations that staff were mistreating migrants. DocGo CEO Anthony Capone told Spectrum News 1 the allegations led to terminations, discipline or retraining.
The Albany Times Union reported Friday that Capone said DocGo is using its New York experience to seek a $4 billion federal contact dealing with migrants crossing the border.