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Rikers Island Guard Trainers Lose Lawsuit for Failure to Repay Loan

The New York Post reported on September 1, 2016 that Joseph L. Garcia and Vicki Shunkwiler Garcia, a husband and wife team whose company received a $1.2 million no-bid contract to provide special ops training to Rikers Island Emergency Service Unit (ESU) guards, had been sued by their friends, Nicholas and Pamela Trbovich, for not repaying a $125,000 loan intended to settle the Garcias’ tax debt. According to the Post, court papers show the Garcias borrowed the sum from the Trboviches in April 2015 – which they promised to pay back within 90 days. A federal judge in Virginia issued default judgments against the Garcias in August and October 2016. Their motion to set aside the judgments and reopen the case was denied. See: Trbovich v. Garcia, U.S.D.C. (E.D. Vir.), Case No. 3:16-cv-00302-REP.

The couple’s company, US C-SOG, came under heavy criticism after allegations of its unorthodox training methods were revealed in a Post article. “Their catchphrase during the training was ‘Break the jaw and walk away,’” said an Emergency Services Unit member who went through the program last year. Other rumored training techniques included teaching ESU guards to subdue prisoners with eye gouges, elbow strikes and rubber bullets. New York City DOC Commissioner Joseph Ponte denied the training included hand-to-hand combat.

When questioned, both Ponte and city officials refused to comment on whether the Garcias’ financial status had been fully vetted prior to the no-bid contract award. 



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Related legal case

Trbovich v. Garcia