Complaints against Russell Wantz were ignored
for years before police filed sex charges
Arrest of PA state security contractor Russell Wantz
on prostitution charges puts millions of dollars
in state contracts at risk
Posted December 19, 2007 -- A top Pennsylvania state government security contractor arrested on prostitution charges may have violated the terms of his state security contracts by allegedly attempting to consort with a prostitute. If found guilty, he potentially stands to lose millions of dollars in state contracts, state records show.
Police mugshot of Russell Wantz, owner of the Schaad Detective Agency (top) and alleged prostitute Payonna Williams (bottom). Click photo of Wantz to enlarge.
Related article links at bottom of page
Russell Wantz, one of the Rendell administration's top security contractors, was arrested in a police prostitution sting in suburban Harrisburg, PA, on December 10, 2007. He was charged with criminal attempt to patronize a prostitute, a misdemeanor.
Wantz, 57, of York, PA, was charged by Swatara Township, PA, police with allegedly soliciting sex from a 21-year-old Harrisburg woman named Payonna Williams. Police say Wantz allegedly responded to an ad the young woman placed on the internet web site Craigslist.org.
State contract records obtained by yardbird.com document that Wantz's firm, the Schaad Detective Agency, of York, PA, has received millions of dollars in Pennsylvania state contracts over the past decade.
· In 2005 and 2006 alone, Wantz's firm received at least $725,933 in contracts from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
· The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission approved purchase orders to Wantz's firm totaling at least $171,593 from September 2003 to December 2005.
· Records obtained from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board indicate that the Schaad Detective Agency received purchase orders totaling at least $74,270 from November 2004, to March 2005.
· State records indicate that Wantz's firm received at least $971,796 in state purchase orders from these security contracts alone. Records from late to 2006 through 2007 have not yet been provided to us. (Click here to download records in PDF format.)
Wantz's arrest conflicts with various state contract
'Contractor Integrity Provisions'
Wantz's firm provides security for some of the most sensitive areas and buildings in Pennsylvania state government. Schaad provides security for PennDot's Riverfront Office Center, where driver's licenses are processed, for example, as well as security for the Turnpike Commission's main office building outside Harrisburg, and the Liquor Control Board.
The wording of the various state contracts is different, but each contract demands the criminal-background or integrity fitness of a contractor and his employees.
For example, a sheet of "Additional Specifications" pertaining to Wantz's guarding of PennDot's Riverfront Office Center specifies, in paragraph 3, that, "All personnel assigned to this contract shall be screened... Any employee who has a criminal record and/or on probation or parole shall not be employed by this contract." Moreover, paragraph 8 states, "Any officer arrested for a misdemeanor, a felony, or having a Protection from Abuse (PFA) order lodged against him/her shall be immediately removed from duty at the Riverfront Office Center."
The original contract signed by Wantz with the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission on May 28, 1997, and provided to us by the Turnpike, contains a clause called "Contractor Integrity Provisions," which, in Section 8.2, states, "The Contractor shall maintain the highest standards of integrity in the performance of this agreement and may take no action in violation of state or federal laws, regulations, or other requirements that govern contracting with the Commission."
Headquarters of Schaad Detective Agency in York, PA: Millions in state contracts yet concerns ignored for years
'The Contractor shall maintain the highest standards of integrity in the performance of this agreement and may take no action in violation of state or federal laws, regulations, or other requirements that govern contracting with the Commission.'
Section 8.8 of the Turnpike contract reads, moreover, "The Contractor, upon being informed that any violation of these provisions has occurred or may occur, shall immediately notify the Commission in writing." It's not immediately known whether Wantz has yet notified the Turnpike Commission that he was arrested for allegedly soliciting a prostitute at the Harrisburg Red Roof Inn on Eisenhower Boulevard, a scant few miles from the Turnpike Headquarters building.
Several state agencies are housed at the various state office buildings protected by Schaad, so various departments are involved in the security contracts.
For example, a committee compromised of PennDot, the Board of Probation and Parole, the Department of Treasury, the Board of Finance and Revenue, the Bureau of Unclaimed Property and the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission are parties to "Letters of Understanding" stating that these agencies representatives "shall have authority and permission to direct ... security personnel whenever the welfare of all of the employees of the building are at stake. ...(A) threat to the welfare of any employee in the building constitutes a threat to all employees in the building."
Department of General Services fires State Capitol
policemen for consorting with a prostitute
Contracts with PennDOT and these other state agencies under control of Gov. Ed Rendell are let through the Department of General Services Statewide Contract Number 9985-24, governing Uniformed, Unarmed or Armed Security Guard Services, and as such are nominally administered by the Dept. of General Services.
"We can't take action (against Wantz) until we receive a letter of complaint in writing from a department head," says Norman John Kee, of the Dept. of General Services. Jim Pearson, in charge of the contract governing Wantz, was surprised to learn that Wantz had been arrested on prostitution charges, and offered no immediate comment. "I'll have someone get back to you," he said.
The state Department of General Services is placed in a particularly awkward position by Wantz's arrest. In mid-December 2007 the General Services officials forced the resignation of a Capitol Police officer, Joseph Kelly, 56, when it was learned that Kelly had bought the services of a prostitute who had stolen his gun in Harrisburg. Officer Kelly will be charged with solicitation of a prostitute, a misdemeanor, the same charge Wantz faces. The Department of General Services oversees the Capitol Police.
"All I can say at this point is that he has delivered a resignation notice to the Capitol Police and that he no longer works for the Capitol Police," General Services spokesman Ed Myslewicz told the Harrisburg Patriot-News on December 19, 2007, speaking of former Officer Kelly.
Complaints against Russell Wantz ignored for years
Wantz's arrest follows years of ignored related complaints made against him by concerned Pennsylvanians.
Wantz 'personnel undoubtedly have access to important state records far beyond the access of an average person. For instance, it is possible that they are a weak link in the security of the issuance of driver's licenses... There are ... basic questions that should be answered: Does Wantz have associations with organized crime that should lead to the state dropping the Schaad Detective Agency as a security provider?'
- State Rep. Mark Cohen to State Police Commissioner Jeffrey Miller, December 2004
Rep. Mark Cohen, of Philadelphia, in a December 30, 2004, letter to Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Colonel Jeffrey B. Miller, called on the State Police conduct a "full and complete" investigation of Wantz.
"Wantz heads the Schaad Detective Agency which provides security for PennDOT, the Liquor Control Board, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike," Rep. Cohen wrote the State Police Commissioner. "His personnel undoubtedly have access to important state records far beyond the access of an average person. For instance, it is possible that they are a weak link in the security of the issuance of driver's licenses."
"I believe that there should be a full and complete investigation of these charges," Rep. Cohen wrote State Police Commissioner Miller. "There are three basic questions that should be answered: (1) Has Wantz committed crimes for which he should be prosecuted that fall within the relevant statute of limitations; (2) Has Wantz committed crimes beyond the statute of limitations that should lead to a recommendation that state agencies should drop the Schaad Detective Agency as a security provider; and (3) Does Wantz have associations with organized crime that should lead to the state dropping the Schaad Detective Agency as a security provider?"
Rep. Cohen's letter was prompted when two York, PA officials, including Police Commissioner Herbert Grofcsik, complained they met with a U.S. Justice Department investigator to seek an investigation of Wantz and others, but that their request was given "File 13," or ignored.
Concerns about Wantz, and the sensitive nature of the state security contracts that he holds, have also been lodged with several state agencies and at least two York County judges. In several instances, the complaints against Wantz resulted in retaliation against those who complained.
Responding to these ignored complaints about Wantz in a May 3, 2006, letter, Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chief Counsel Doreen McCall wrote that "the Commission has no jurisdiction to investigate allegations that the owner of the Schaad Detective Agency 'has alleged close ties to an ongoing prostitution ring,'" and suggested that the matter be referred "to the appropriate law enforcement agency for review."
In a letter dated April 28, 2006, C. Jeffrey Goble of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's Office of Inspector General noted that although "allegations about Schaad Detective Agency and its owner" include alleged "criminal misconduct, specifically 'close ties to an ongoing prostitution ring,'" the "Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General (OIG) .. has no jurisdiction over criminal matters. ...(T)hose allegations should be reported to local, state, or federal law enforcement agencies."
Yet, in both cases, neither the Turnpike Commission nor the Inspector General's Office took any action.
Wantz was unavailable for comment. An employee who answered the phone at his detective agency said Wantz was "out of town until Friday."
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