COLLINSVILLE, Ill. — For the past month, Alonzo Harris and Patricia McGhee have worked as security guards for Priority Tactical in Collinsville. Day and night they patrol public housing units in St. Louis. The security guards like their jobs, but now they have reason to be upset.
"I am angry and upset," said Alonzo Harris.
"I just don't like the idea that he kept telling us over and over again you're gonna get this and you're gonna get this and we never did," said Patricia McGhee.
The security guards are furious because they and about 20 of their co-workers haven't been paid all year.
"I got bills to pay. That man lied to us and he hired us under false premises. If he knew he wasn't gonna pay his employees, then he shouldn't have never taken a contract," added Harris.
The workers say for weeks now they've repeatedly called and texted their boss, Tony Smoote, to no avail.
"I called and said can you send me a paper check or can I come by and pick up a paper check. All I got was, 'No, it's gonna be in the bank,'" said McGhee.
Smoote retired as a St. Louis police lieutenant after 26 years. Two years ago, he started his private security business in Collinsville.
In a statement sent to 5 On Your Side, St. Louis Housing Authority's Executive Director said:
"We have received confirmation from Habitat, the City's private management company, paid for services rendered and has fulfilled its obligation to the contractor, Securitex, which is based in Chicago. Although payment has been made directly from Habitat to the security company, it is the St. Louis Housing Authority's expectation that this matter is resolved quickly by Priority Tactical."
During a telephone interview Tuesday, 5 On Your Side asked Smoote why the security guards and other workers haven't received their paychecks.
Smoote said he was out of town but working on the problem.
"Again, we're working through a prime contractor, so it has to funnel through them first before we receive that payment. I completely understand the frustration on behalf of the staff that we did hire for this contract. So again, we're working with Securitex to get this resolved by the 8th. We got a plan in motion to have everyone paid by Friday," said Smoote.
"If you're honest with me, then I'm willing to work with you, but he has not been honest at all," said McGhee.
The security guards said if they don't receive their paychecks by Friday, then they will start talking to lawyers.
Several of the full-time and part-time workers have since quit working at Priority Tactical.
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