More questions arise about Allegheny County Jail contractor

The man contracted to provide more than $300,000 in training for officers at Allegheny County Jail has been the subject of multiple lawsuits, a foreclosure and federal tax liens in recent years, according to documents obtained by the Tribune-Review.

In addition, all four Virginia sheriff’s offices where Joseph Lee Garcia said he previously worked confirmed to the Tribune-Review that he never was an employee.

Garcia, who operates Corrections Special Applications Unit, became the subject of controversy in Pittsburgh when county administration signed a no-bid contract with him in July to provide militaristic training and weaponry to officers at the jail for things like cell extraction and the use of less-lethal force. In similar training offered by Garcia elsewhere, according to court filings, officers were trained to fire concussive grenades and gouge inmates’ eyes.

Warden Orlando Harper said hiring Garcia’s company was necessary to counter this spring’s referendum banning the use of chemical weapons, leg irons and the restraint chair at the jail.

However, advocates for those incarcerated have argued that Garcia’s training is extreme and violent.

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