OAKLAND -- Admitting they nearly entered into a deal with a questionable security company now under investigation, Port of Oakland commissioners on Thursday vowed to revamp their contracting process.
"We came very close to approving a bad contract," Commissioner Michael Colbruno said. "The whole procurement process" should be reviewed.
The commissioners voted 6-0 to back out of a contract with BMT International Security Services, which had submitted bogus references and credentials to win a $450,000 deal to patrol two shoreline parks.
The port has extended its existing contract with ABC Security to guard a 42-acre shoreline through the end of the year. Colbruno added that the port needs to have a better screening process.
Commission President Cestra Butner agreed.
"This commission will take our lumps if we did anything wrong," he said. "We want to make sure we get things right. ... I don't want anything slipped under the rug."
BMT, which is linked to Oakland's defunct Your Black Muslim Bakery, had been in final negotiations with the port when this newspaper reported that its proposal contained references to work at other government agencies that had no record of ever doing business with it. The firm also appears to have inflated the credentials of its managers.
The company is now being investigated by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office and the state Department of Consumer Affairs. A former Oakland police officer also said in court papers that he believes the company stole a security company license number from him that he let lapse in 2008 when he retired.
BMT told the port that it had worked for BART, the San Joaquin County Housing Authority and the Riverside Transit Agency, but those agencies had no record of hiring the company. The firm also lost contracts with Alameda County and the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles when staff at those agencies discovered the Oakland company submitted apparently false insurance certification.
At least one Bay Area government noticed before awarding a contract that something appeared wrong with BMT's credentials.
In 2011, the Vallejo City Council rejected a BMT proposal after city staff reported that the listed references were not calling back and one claimed to not know the company. BMT unsuccessfully appealed and some of its employees spoke out at a public meeting.
BMT sought another Vallejo contract in 2012 but again failed to win it. BMT owner Rory Parker sued the North Bay city in December, claiming she and her company experienced disparate treatment "because of their race, which is Black, and because of their religion, which is of the Islamic faith."
The firm is run out of a Black Muslim temple in West Oakland whose minister, Dahood Sharieff Bey, was an associate of Your Black Muslim Bakery and a disciple of its founder, Yusuf Bey. Yusuf Bey touted his business enterprise as empowering African-Americans, but prosecutors have described it as a wide-ranging criminal organization involved in violent crimes, real estate fraud and identity theft.
The bakery collapsed in 2007 when its members, led by Yusuf Bey IV, killed three men, including Oakland journalist Chauncey Bailey. Bey IV is now serving a life prison term without parole. Prosecutors and police have linked five unsolved homicides to the bakery.
Dahood Bey, the minister who identified himself at a recent Oakland council meeting as "Mr. Pasha," was tried for torture in 2010 but pleaded guilty to lesser charges when the jury could not reach a verdict. His co-defendant in that case, Basheer Fard Muhammad, has been the public face of BMT at port and other government meetings, urging officials to give it contracts.
BMT owner Rory Parker is Dahood Bey's mother. The company also claimed in its port proposal to have a retired, Harvard-educated FBI agent serving as its chief financial officer and that its guards include former Secret Service agents.
Law enforcement records show San Francisco police officers arrested Muhammad in Oakland on Feb. 25 on suspicion of receiving stolen property, which was described as a "refrigerated sandwich table." He was jailed for two days and released after the Alameda County District Attorney's Office declined to prosecute him. San Francisco police spokesman Sgt. Eric O'Neal has refused to release details about the case despite repeated requests.
BMT is also seeking a contract to work for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, but transit officials there would not disclose any information about the bid until they finish evaluating all the proposals in May.