2 Facebook security staffers have been accused of taking part in a plot to obtain concealed weapon licenses with false info when they worked for a Facebook contractor
- An indictment by the District Attorney for Santa Clara identifies two
AS Solution, though it does not charge the employees.
- According to the indictment, the two helped falsify documents as part of a push to allow bodyguards to carry hidden firearms.
- It also alleges that another one of the indicted alleged conspirators texted another early in the process: "I need you to meet my buddy that runs the Facebook Executive protection team ... it's a potential $50K."
- The two Facebook employees are accused of conspiring with the indicted defendants, but have not been indicted or otherwise formally charged. The Santa Clara DA says more charges are forthcoming.
An indictment alleges that two Facebook security workers took part in a plan that was allegedly hatched two years ago to obtain licenses to carry concealed weapons to protect the social networking firm's leadership team. One was also alleged to have taken part in a $90,000 bribery plot.
At the time, both workers were employed by AS Solution, a contractor that Facebook uses for executive security.
Jack Stromgren, head of protective services at Facebook, and Rachael Paskvan, a manager of global protective services at Facebook, were identified by name in the indictment, published by the Santa Clara District Attorney's Office last week, and accused of having falsified documents while previously employed at AS Solution, a firm that provides security services to Facebook, in 2018.
The pair, like multiple other current and former AS Solution employees also identified in the indictment, were accused of conspiring with indicted defendants — but were not indicted. The Santa Clara District Attorney's Office told Business Insider that "more criminal charges are forthcoming" as the investigation continues, but did not comment on specific individuals.
The potential charges threaten to pull Facebook's security team into another scandal — and raise questions about the company's vetting of vendors.
Stromgren and Paskvan did not respond to requests for comment.
Citing the ongoing court proceedings, a Facebook spokesperson declined to answer a detailed list of questions about the case, including whether Stromgren and Paskvan are still employed by Facebook, when Facebook first became aware of the alleged plot, what (if anything) other senior security executives at Facebook knew, if Facebook is still working with AS Solution, and whether Facebook suspects wrongdoing by any other employees.
In an emailed statement, AS Solution executive vice president Brian Jantzen said: "The AS Solution team is committed to ethical and lawful practices and full cooperation with law enforcement. We are focused on continued service to our clients and ensuring that our ethical standards are upheld."
'I need you to meet my buddy that runs the Facebook Executive protection team'
The grand jury indictment alleges that a captain for the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Office conspired with the CEO of AS Solution and other employees, along with two local lawyers and a gun parts manufacturer, to obtain concealed-carry weapon (CCW) permits for AS Solution's executive protection officers.
The indictment alleges that in April 2018, gun parts manufacturer Michael Nichols set up a meeting between himself, AS Solution CEO Christian West, AS Solution employee Martin Nielsen, attorney Harpaul Nahal, and attorney Christopher Schumb. He texted Nahal in advance: "I need you to meet my buddy that runs the Facebook Executive protection team ... it's a potential $50K". (In September 2019, San Jose Inside also reported that Nielsen worked on AS Solution's contract with Facebook. He did not respond to a request for comment.)
Nichols then introduced Nielsen to Sheriff's Captain James Jensen at a "Best in the West" SWAT competition, where the indictment alleges they "agreed in principle that AS Solution's executive protection agents would receive CCW licenses issued by the Sheriff in exchange for a donation from the company."
The indictment alleges that the agreed-upon donation take the form of payments totalling $90,000 to support Santa Clara Sheriff Laurie Smith's re-election efforts.
The indictment alleges that after the deal was arranged, Stromgren told executive protection agents filling out their CCW license applications "to list false employer names and positions and to use false Santa Clara County residence addresses if they did not reside in the county." The indictment also accuses Stromgren of falsifying his own CCW paperwork.
Stromgren went on to join Facebook in June 2020, according to his LinkedIn profile. Rachael Paskvan had jumped over from AS Solution in September 2019. (Facebook sometimes hires third-party contractors it has been working with, bringing them in-house as employees.)
The indictment alleges that two additional AS Solution employees, Jonathan Taunton and Leonard Lawrence, falsified their CCW paperwork. Taunton and Lawrence, like the other AS Solutions employees identified in the document, were not indicted or otherwise charged.
Taunton did not respond to a request for comment, while Lawrence could not be reached for comment.
AS Solution has multiple clients that it provides security services to, in addition to Facebook. The indictment does not make clear which of its clients contracted agents with CCW licenses that are alleged to be illicitly obtained.
Four people have been indicted so far — and more charges are expected
Jensen, Nahal, Nichols, and Schumb have all been indicted, on counts varying from bribing an executive officer, conspiracy, filing a CCW license application with a false statement, to falsification of public record by a custodial officer. They will be arraigned on Aug. 31, according to the Santa Clara District Attorney's office, and may face jail time if convicted.
Reached for comment about whether Sheriff Smith disputes the allegations, the Santa Clara Sheriff's Office said only that Jensen had been placed on administrative leave, and declined to further comment.
Jensen's attorney, Harry Stern, said: "James is devastated by this development. It is extremely painful to have his integrity questioned after spending years dedicated to serving the people of Santa Clara County. I haven't been provided any evidence at this point, but broadly speaking I believe that all of the folks involved were legally able to obtain the permits. Moreover, he doesn't have the authority to grant permits nor did he receive anything for processing them. Given that I haven't been provided discovery yet, I am not in a position to add anything else."
Nahal, Nichols, and Schumb did not respond to requests for comment.
Several current or former AS Solution employees are explicitly accused of committing crimes in the indictment, but they are not indicted themselves. Stromgren, West, and Nielsen are accused of conspiring to bribe an executive officer, as well as conspiring to file a CCW license with a false statement. Paskvan, Lawrence, and Taunton are also accused in the indictment of the latter crime.
Reached for comment, Santa Clara Deputy District Attorney John Chase said in an email: "The investigation is not complete and more criminal charges are forthcoming. We will issue news releases at or near the time of filing of any charges. It does not benefit the investigation to provide the public with a timeline for filing future criminal charges.
"We are not going to comment on individuals not charged except as necessary to explain charging decisions. In this case, we will not be commenting on Facebook or any of its employees."
Facebook's security team has faced issues before
Facebook has a vast security apparatus, with more than 6,000 workers protecting its tens of thousands of employees around the world. At the time of the alleged bribery, Jill Leavens Jones was the company's director of executive protection. (She now works as the company's director of global security blue team.) She did not respond to a request for comment about whether she knew anything of the effort.
Nick Lovrien, Facebook's chief security officer, likewise did not respond to a request for comment.
Facebook's security team has faced issues before. In mid-2019, three senior employees of Facebook's on-site corporate security contractor Allied Universal (the parent company of AS Solution) left the firm amid investigations into potential financial irregularities and allegations of misconduct.
And Mark Zuckerberg's personal security chief, Liam Booth, left in July 2019 after facing allegations of racism and sexual harassment from former colleagues. (Zuckerberg's family office continues to dispute the allegations.)
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