The Chicago Park District’s inspector general has launched an internal investigation to determine whether a host of problems that cost Monterrey Security its contract at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis are also occurring in Chicago.
Inspector General Will Fletcher disclosed Monday that he has requested “documents and records related to the billing practices” of Monterrey and the licensing of the company’s security guards assigned to Soldier Field and the concert pavilion at Northerly Island.
“We want to know whether or not the allegations out of Minneapolis have any relation to what’s happening in Chicago,” Fletcher said.
“The investigation relates to billing practices and whether Monterrey personnel had the appropriate licensing to work these events.”
Minneapolis problems uncovered by stadium operator SMG’s handpicked law firm, Maslon LLP, included sloppy record keeping, inadequate training and background checks and hiring employees with criminal records that should have been disqualifying.
The Minneapolis controversy prompted the state of New York to deny Monterrey’s application for a security license – a decision Monterrey is appealing. That cost Monterrey its security work at New Era Field, home of the Buffalo Bills.
In Chicago, Fletcher said he is prepared to issue subpoenas if he encounters resistance from Monterrey.
Juan Gaytan, the former Chicago Police officer who owns Monterrey, said he “disagrees with what happened entirely in Minnesota” and welcomes “any third-party” willing to take an “unbiased look” at Monterrey’s operations.
“This is a complete, systematic, racist target against the only minority security and guest services provider in all of professional sports,” Gaytan said.
Gaytan advised investigators and the news media to “look at all of the other non-MBE companies that do far worse things than are even alleged that we do.”
“The only thing that we do is we hire people from communities that deserve opportunities. We are compliant with every single law in the state of Illinois,” Gaytan said.
“We’ve been there eighteen years and hiring people from communities that are disenfranchised from all of these public assembly facilities in Chicago who deserve an opportunity to work at these stadiums and facilities.”
As for the alleged billing irregularities and licensing allegations in Minneapolis, Gaytan said, “It’s all false. I completely disagree with all of that. And that’s why we’re appealing.”
Gaytan angrily disputed the “clout-heavy” characterization of the security company he formed years ago with the former Chicago firefighter brother of Ald. Danny Solis (25th).
“We don’t call upon anyone to do anything that would be improper at all whatsoever. We’re people from the Southwest Side of Chicago that are hard-working, first-generation immigrant from Mexico that are hard-working. Plain and simple,” Gaytan said.
Last month, the Chicago Sun-Times lifted the veil on the high-stakes battle brewing behind the scenes to determine who provides security at the lakefront stadium.
The newspaper reported that Monterrey — with a powerful assist from the City Council’s Hispanic Caucus — had spent the last five months haggling about an audit by BDO USA LLP, an accounting firm hired by SMG.
SMG ordered the audit to determine whether the host of problems also were occurring in Chicago.
At that time, Monterrey essentially accused SMG of engaging in a witch hunt tailor-made to drive the company out of the NFL.
Reyahd Kazmi, the husband of City Clerk Anna Valencia, was hired by Monterrey during the haggling over the audit.
The Hispanic Caucus has also gone to bat for Monterrey.
“We don’t want Monterrey being bullied — especially in our backyard,” Hispanic Caucus Chairman Gilbert Villegas (36th) told the Sun-Times last month.
According to Villegas, Gaytan has acknowledged “mistakes” and the need to “tighten paperwork,” but maintained those problems could be “easily remedied.”
Gaytan also told aldermen changes have already been made in response to the Minneapolis audit — which should have remained confidential.
Monterrey has had a corner on the Chicago security market for years, but that appears to be changing.
When Monterrey’s contract to provide security at Wrigley Field expired after the 2017 Major League Baseball season, the Cubs switched that lucrative contract to Andy Frain, according to team spokesman Julian Green.
The Bears are also contemplating a change in security arrangements at their practice facility and on the road.