The Experts, a Fort Lauderdale-based computer security firm, raked in about $60 million a year -- until one of its employees, Aaron Alexis, went on a rampage at the Washington Navy Yard and killed 12 people September 16. The Experts made about half its money doing subcontract work -- like installing and securing government computers -- from Hewlett Packard.
After an internal investigation, HP has announced it is severing its contract with the Experts, leaving that company's founder and CEO in what he described as "survival mode," laying off half his staff and possibly facing bankruptcy, according to a New York Times article.
From an airport in Virginia, Alexis called his boss at the Experts on August 4 to complain that a family was mocking him. Then at a hotel in Rhode Island where he was staying, he complained that he was hearing voices; a supervisor told a hotel employee August 7 that Alexis was "unstable" and would be sent home. On August 9, Alexis' mother told the Experts that her son had experienced paranoia and may need professional mental help. Senior-level bosses met to discuss it but cleared him for work.
Now, in the wake of the shooting, HP has canceled its contract with the Experts, though the Experts say Hewlett-Packard was kept in the loop about issues with Alexis -- HP likewise permitted him to work and even gave him good performance reviews.
The Experts CEO Thomas Hoshko is a Navy veteran who, according to his bio, has developed "business partnerships with the top 10 defense contractors, as well as, many of the FORTUNE 500 and large financial institutions." He was once featured in a yachting publication for renting a $44,500-a-week yacht to entertain clients during the Super Bowl, and the New York Times contrasted his lifestyle with low-level contract workers for the Experts who make $25 an hour. Hoshko said that in the wake of the shooting and loss of the HP contract, he was also having trouble with financing from his main bank and might have to file for bankruptcy protections. His company had to let go 250 of the 600 contract workers; it has about 100 other employees.
In a statement, Hosko wrote that the company extended "deep and heartfelt sympathy for everyone affected by the Washington Navy Yard tragedy."
The statement also said:
We are disappointed in HP's decision to terminate its contracts with us, as we have been a preferred business partner to HP for over 6 years and EDS (an HP Company) for many years prior. I truly believe we have continued to meet all our obligations and know that our valued and trusted employees have done nothing wrong. I also very much regret the effect this has on close to 250 of our employees who were serving on HP-contracted projects and many mission critical, valuable and important engagements worldwide. Most were not involved in any way with the Navy Yard project and are simply saddened by the tragic events, and now also feeling the impact of HP's decision. Regardless, we are working with HP to ensure a smooth transition and transfer of all employees, consultants, agreements and contracts as swiftly and expeditiously as possible and for the sake of others.
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