Thursday, April 05, 2007

From the Tax Files

Discovered in one of today's tax return files was an interesting bit of reading. It read a bit like a trashy spy novel or B-grade movie material, or a Dukes of Hazard episode (check out the picture of the security guards at the official site of Wackenhut corporation).

Our investigation all started with a simple stock sale and needing to know what the cost basis was so that we could calculate the capital gains. But where did the client get their Wackenhut stock? It didn't show up in the estate they had just inherited and they claimed no knowledge of ever purchasing any Wackenhut stock. So the preparer went scouting around and came up with some background information for me. A few blurbs from today's reading file:

Wackenhut was founded in 1954, in Coral Gables, Florida, by George Wackenhut and three partners, all former FBI agents. After early struggles — including a fistfight between Wackenhut and one of his partners — he took sole control of the company in 1958, naming it for himself.

Wackenhut is involved in protecting nuclear reactors, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and other high-security government installations, including those of the Department of Energy.

Wackenhut and Private Prisons

In 1999, Wackenhut was stripped of a $12-million-a-year contract in Texas and fined $625,000 for failing to live up to promises in the running of a state jail after several guards were indicted for having sex with female inmates.

Wackenhut and the CIA

Frequent rumors that his company was in the employ of the Central Intelligence Agency, particularly in the 1960s, were never substantiated, but Wackenhut, who was obsessive about high-tech security gadgets in his private life, did not discourage the suggestion.

Janet Chandler Murder

In 1979, hotel clerk and Hope College senior Janet Chandler was found raped and murdered in a snowbank along Interstate 196 near Holland, Michigan. Initially treated as a robbery, the case remained unsolved until a group of Hope students produced a documentary that uncovered a sex and drugs party atmosphere at the hotel, then occupied by dozens of Wackenhut security guards assigned to protect the facilities of local manufacturer Chemtron during a bitter strike. The documentary prompted a reopening of the case and arrests of six security guards and a hotel supervisor who was Chandler's roommate.

I still don't know how much the client paid for their Wackenhut stock or how they came to own it, but I know a bit more about Wackenhut. Welcome to my world.



At 8:17 AM, April 06, 2007, Blogger Foo said...

Interesting. I never knew anything about Wackenhut, but the name always made me giggle a little. It sounds like an Amish metaphor for "the woodshed".

"You've been a bad boy, Lars. Go fetch a switch and wait for me in the wackenhut."

Okay, I guess it's a little funnier if you can hear the Pennsylvania Dutch accent I'm hearing in my head. Or maybe it's Swedish. Which the Amish aren't.

At 1:50 PM, April 06, 2007, Blogger Gwynne said...

It made me giggle a little also. And now, with the Swedish Amish (I know, they're Dutch, I get that ;-) accent, it's even funnier.


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