The board claims the man who just earned a $350,000 contract with the county jail will not disclose information needed to properly vet the company.By Meghan Schiller

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Controversy is brewing over a prison contractor hired to train corrections officers at the Allegheny County Jail.

The Jail Oversight Board gathered Monday for a special meeting and voted 4-3, with one person abstaining, in a motion to end the C-SAU training led by Joseph Garcia.

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Board members told KDKA’s Meghan Schiller ahead of Monday’s vote that Garcia would not disclose information about his alleged prior military background or any alleged criminal background. They also claimed they had not received any of his references from any previous employers.

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Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner called that unacceptable, saying the company’s earmarked to receive nearly $350,000 of taxpayer money.

Garcia runs C-SAU which stands for Corrections Special Applications Unit. It won a no-bid contract by Allegheny County to train corrections officers with less-lethal tactics to restrain inmates.

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“There was a study published in 2017 that found that three percent of people hit by rubber projectiles died of the injury. Fifteen percent of the 1,900 people were permanently injured by rubber projectiles,” councilperson Bethany Hallam said during the meeting.

KDKA’s Meghan Schiller looked at C-SAU’s website, and Garcia’s other website called K1K9, as she attempted to get in touch with Garcia to ask about his intentions in Allegheny County. The website shows Garcia with a high and tight haircut, wearing tactical gear, and holding a weapon.

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“Items that I had personally requested and agreed to by the President Judge and chair of the board Kim Clark and others were that we needed a resume, we wanted to see the so-called 14 different departments of corrections that this man claims to have worked with in the past and we also wanted from the jail a list of the other companies they claim to have looked at in coming to this decision to contract with Garcia,” Wagner said.

The jail’s warden, Orlando Harper, previously went on the record defending Garcia and his hiring. He said Garcia went through the jail’s rigorous security checks before being granted access to the facility and he’s been vetted and granted access to provide training at 66 other facilities.

KDKA’s messages left with Garcia and C-SAU were not immediately returned, but an auto-reply email from Garcia did say “I will be out of the office until the 15th of Dec on travel. Due to my travel locations response to your email may take some time for me to respond to.”

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The board told KDKA that the training at the jail will stop. The county could put out a request for another de-escalation company next.

Meghan Schiller