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Embattled security firm out at Boston airport

BOSTON, Massachusetts (CNN) -- The nation's largest airport security company will leave Boston's Logan International Airport in two weeks, under the terms of an agreement reached Friday with the Massachusetts Port Authority.

The agreement between Massport and Atlanta-based Argenbright Security rendered unnecessary a hearing on the matter which was scheduled for Friday.

While the agreement also calls for Argenbright to leave Hanscom Airfield in Bedford, the company could continue to provide security at other Massachusetts facilities such as Suffolk Downs horse track and the Hynes Convention Center.

The company has agreed to be out of all Massport properties by the end of the day on December 14, said Massport interim security chief John DiFava. He originally pulled Argenbright's license on November 15 because of several security lapses at Logan, but agreed to let the company stay on until the hearing.

Among the security breaches were two instances in which Argenbright employees left their stations unattended, in one case forcing the rescreening of hundreds of passengers.

Argenbright, which has been under federal investigation, was also the security firm involved in Chicago last month when a man slipped by a screening area at O'Hare International Airport with knives and a stun gun.

Besides Logan and O'Hare, Argenbright provides security at several other major airports, including Philadelphia International Airport, Newark International Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport.

DiFava said the company has agreed to do thorough background checks on all its employees and drop any found to have felony convictions.

Three Argenbright managers pleaded guilty in May 2000 to crimes involving Argenbright's employment practices at Philadelphia International Airport. The company was put on probation for three years, and was ordered to pay $1.55 million in fines and restitution and to set up "a mandatory and comprehensive compliance program."

Last month, the Department of Justice filed a motion against Argenbright charging violations of the probation.

The two flights that were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center September 11 originated at Logan, although Argenbright was not under contract to provide security for either of the airlines involved -- American Airlines and United Airlines. In Boston, Argenbright is used by US Airways, Delta, Delta Shuttle and America West.


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