Washington DC July 13 2019
An ex-security guard is suing his former employer, asserting that the company inappropriately fired him after his arrest in an extortion and theft case.
Craig Hymon was one of four security guards at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who were arrested and charged in 2017 amid accusations that they were demanding payouts from other guards for passing marks on their firearms certifications.
Hymon had two security jobs at the time and stated in federal court documents that when he was arrested and detained for 36 hours in allegations related to his work at NOAA, he had no way of contacting his employers in an unrelated position working for Paragon Systems.
Paragon suspended him without pay, saying he violated company policy by failing to notify management of his arrest within 12 hours of being taken into custody, according to the documents filed in U.S. District Court in Maryland.
Hymon alleges that he was unfairly suspended and later fired, contending that other officers who have failed to notify Paragon of their arrests after the 12-hour policy window did not receive the same punishment he did.
Paragon denied in court documents that Hymon was unfairly treated or retaliated against due to his union involvement or that his discipline was discriminatory. The company also denied that white workers were treated differently than minority employees.
Hymon, who is black and was a union steward for the Governed United Security Professionals, was later fired, and then was unable to get his job back even after the charges against him were dropped due to insufficient evidence, his attorney Andrew Nyombi said.
“He was fired for reasons based on race discrimination because comparative white workers who had criminal records were arrested but were never fired,” Nyombi said. “The charges have impacted him so much. He’s suffered so much emotional distress.”
Paragon said in court documents that the company did terminate his employment but denied that Hymon was fired because of his union involvement or race.
- Scott Krause, the attorney representing Paragon, said neither he nor his client had any comment on the matter.
The criminal case that led to Hymon’s suit against Paragon dates to fall 2017, when he and three others — Diamond Mabry, 27, of Capitol Heights; Chidinma Ileka, 36, of Beltsville; and Vicson Johnson, 43, of Temple Hills — were arrested. As employees for North American Security, which provides security for NOAA, they were accused of telling other guards that they had failed their firearms exams but could earn their certifications by paying $150 to $500, prosecutors said.
The charges against Hymon and Johnson were dropped.
At the time of the arrests, Art Lopez, chief executive of North American Security, said that the allegations were troubling and that he was “at a loss for words.” The firm employs about 75 guards at the NOAA facility in Silver Spring, he had said. When reached last month about the outcome of the criminal cases and Hymon’s lawsuit, Lopez declined to comment.
Mabry was sentenced to three years supervised probation after pleading guilty to conspiracy in a theft scheme, court records show.
Mabry’s attorney, Thomas C. Mooney, declined to comment on the matter, but in court records asking a judge to reconsider Mabry’s sentencing he wrote that she was “remorseful for her actions and took responsibility for her role by entering a plea of guilty.”
Ileka was sentenced to 18 months probation for conspiracy and verbal extortion. The charge she pleaded to was bumped down to a misdemeanor, and she was granted probation before judgment, said attorney Steve Kupferberg.
Ileka’s family friend wrote a letter to the judge before her sentencing, saying “she is remorseful about this whole situation, particularly its grave repercussion for her family and career, which she has built for 18 years.”
Hymon’s civil case is scheduled for a settlement conference Sept. 10.