Company accused of not paying Santa Fe employees

AAA Security
AAA Security

SANTA FE (KRQE) – Adam Villalobos is struggling to find a job to help feed his family after the security company he worked for closed its Santa Fe office and didn’t pay him. He’s not the only one and the staff say it didn’t happen just once.

For nine months Villalobos worked as a security officer for AAA Security out of their Santa Fe office. The more than dozen employees provided security for the City of Santa Fe. They watched over some city events and buildings like city hall and the airport.

In mid-June the Santa Fe employees got a letter that said AAA Security was not renewing the contract with the city. About a dozen of it’s employees in that office would no longer have a job after June 30.

“I’ve got an 18-month-old son that I have to support, I’ve got got other obligations that I have and it’s hard, it’s stressful,” Villalobos said.

“It hurts, that’s money I rely on.”— Tim Huizar

Four employees told KRQE News 13 that none of the Santa Fe employees received their final paychecks. They said in the past paychecks have bounced, AAA Security didn’t pay them for hours worked or they didn’t get paid at all.

Villalobos says the company owes him about $700.

“For me when you’re living paycheck to paycheck $700 is a lot of money,” he said.

Tim Huizar worked for AAA Security for about a year and-a-half. He was a supervisor who heard from all his staff about not getting paid. He said the company financially ruined employees.

“When they did get a check, half the time they didn’t know whether to deposit it into their bank or try and cash it because their checks wouldn’t cash,” he said.

Huizar said the company owes thousands of dollars to about a dozen employees. He says AAA Security still owes him about $1,000.

“It hurts, that’s money I rely on. I use it to pay my child support and pay some of my bills,” Huizar said.

The Private Investigations Advisory Board, that oversees security companies, has received multiple complaints regarding AAA Security. During its investigation, it found that on several occasions the company employed unlicensed people and allowed them to carry firearms. The Private Investigations Advisory Board forwarded the cases onto the New Mexico Attorney General’s office. A spokesman for that office said he could not comment on possible pending case.

Filing a Complaint

If AAA employees believe they are receiving worthless or otherwise fraudulent payroll checks, they are encouraged to file a complaint with the Private Investigations Advisory Board.

Source: Private Investigations Advisory Board

KRQE News 13 tried to get answers from the company. Employees told us we had to talk to the owner, Hank Cadena. They said he was recovering from heart surgery and didn’t know when he’d be back in the office. His attorney did not return our call.

Employees don’t know if they will ever see their money.

Villalobos says he’s collecting unemployment and falling behind on bills. He says the AAA Security issued him checks that bounced and didn’t pay him for hours worked. He says it caused him to miss his child support payments and threatened with arrest.

“According to the hearing officer I was looking at anywhere to 6 months to a year in jail,” Villalobos said. “They’ve put me and everyone else through hell. It’s been a nightmare.”

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