DENVER (CN) - Five security investigators claim in court they were fired for reporting a "cabal" of co-workers at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, who sold classified information, tampered with government computers, gave advance warning of military operations, and ran drugs and prostitutes on the military base.
Victor Cejka and four others sued Vectrus Systems Corp., an international security conglomerate formerly known as Exelis Systems Corp., and two of their former bosses at Bagram. All parties in the Oct. 30 federal complaint are from the United States.
The plaintiffs describe themselves as "highly trained and experienced security investigators who worked for Vectrus, a Department of Defense subcontractor, at the Bagram Air Base (BAF)."
There they conducted interviews and investigations to gather data for the Pentagon's Biometric Automated Toolset database. The military uses the BAT database to log identifying features such as iris scans and fingerprints to track suspected terrorists, "insurgents" and other wanted people.
While working for Vectrus, they "discovered that a group of Vectrus employees were engaged in illegal and illicit activities that endangered the safety and security of those stationed at BAF," the men say.
The complaint continues: "Among other things, this cabal of Vectrus employees engaged in altering and deleting information in the U.S. Government's biometric data system used for the tracking and identification of individuals and potential insurgents, selling of classified information for personal gain, taking improper actions to protect a Turkish contractor including interfering with investigations and giving advance warning of raids by the military, controlling drugs, alcohol and prostitutes on the military base, and transferring or terminating employees who would not cooperate with their illegal activities."
The men say they reported this to the military and to Vectrus, and that Vectrus "attempted to impede the military's investigation by directing plaintiffs not to cooperate with the military."
They did cooperate with the military however, and "(a)t 2:00 a.m. on November 5, 2013, the military conducted a base-wide raid at BAF and apprehended eight Vectrus employees who were engaged in the wrongful behavior that plaintiffs reported," according to the complaint.
Three plaintiffs say they were fired in 2013 in retaliation for whistleblowing; two say they were constructively fired the next year.
The individual defendants are Brandon Spann, a Texan who was a senior security supervisor for Vectrus at Bagram, and Kevin Daniel, a Louisianan who was a Vectrus security manager there.
Both Spann and Daniel were among the eight arrested during the Nov. 5 raid, and all eight were "removed from the contract and Afghanistan and their security clearances were revoked," according to the complaint.
The plaintiffs say they initially became suspicious when information in the BAT database concerning an alleged sexual relationship between one of Daniel's friends and a person who was the focus of an ongoing investigation had been tampered with or deleted. Then, they say, they discovered that a group of Turkish workers possessed unauthorized identification cards from the BAT database.
When plaintiff Steven Wascher reported this to Spann, Spann "attempted to intimidate him into dropping that investigation," according to the complaint. It adds that Spann had "a close relationship with two Turkish contractors, and was having a sexual relationship with the daughter of the owner of one of the contractors."
Wascher says that "Spann's intimidation efforts" were meant to protect "members of Vectrus management and possibly the Turkish contractor."
The 30-page lawsuit is replete with other lurid allegations. For instance: "Spann had previously attempted to protect the Turkish contractor by improperly directing investigators to back off of an investigation into human trafficking allegations involving the use of young Turkish male sex slaves by said contractor on the base and by giving the contractor advance notice of raids by the military."
(A recent report in The New York Times stated that the Pentagon is struggling with how to deal with allies in the Mideast who use young boys for sex.)
The lead investigator, plaintiff Paul Cross, was one of the first to be fired. "Spann and others at Vectrus hoped that his termination would send a message to the other investigators and stop them from any further cooperation with the military," the complaint states.
But the plaintiffs say they continued to cooperate with the military, and that a Vectrus employee accused Spann, Daniel and two other investigators of "control of drugs, alcohol and prostitutes on base," of firing or transferring workers who objected, and showed them "text messages indicating unauthorized activity with classified information."
One of these two investigators also was arrested during the Nov. 5 raid, the plaintiffs say.
They claim that portions of some BAT reports were improperly deleted without cause, and that more than 100 badges from the database were issued without mandatory investigations.
When they brought this to Vectrus' attention, they say, "No action was taken."
All five plaintiffs say their firing and de facto firing was "blatant retaliation for whistleblowing."
They seek punitive damages for wrongful firing, whistleblower violations, outrage, and intentional interference with contract.
Their attorney Raymond Martin, with Wheeler Trigg & O'Donnell, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Nor did Vectrus.
Exelis Systems spun off Vectrus in 2014, reducing the size of Exelis by about 25 percent, reducing its annual revenue to $3.4 billion and its workforce from about 12,000 to 7,000, according to an April 1, 2014 report in the Washington (D.C.) Business Journal.
After the spinoff, Vectrus remained based in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Vectrus describes itself on its website as "a leading provider of global service solutions in the areas of infrastructure asset management, information technology and network communication services, and logistics and supply chain management services."
It has been around since 1945 and its managers have an average of 28 years in the military and industry, Vectrus says. It says it has 5,000 employs and manages more than 7,250 subcontractor personnel.
Its CEO is retired Lt. Gen Kenneth Hunzeker, and its board members include a retired CEO of ITT who works as a senior adviser to The Carlyle Group, a former vice president of Textron, a former North American president of Brink's, and a former senior vice president of Tyco International, according to the company website.
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