Employees charged in Florida port security scandal

| 3/26/2003

A potentially dangerous breach in Florida’s Port Everglades security was closed March 23 with the arrests of the president and two employees of Port Services International Inc., a contractor charged with hiring security officers who had provided bogus state licenses.

Company President Edward Ebmeier, 57, of Parkland, FL; supervisor Almeida Cetoute, 50, of North Miami; and employee Fritz Victor, 38, of Miami were arrested Sunday morning, charged with knowingly using unlicensed guards at the port to provide security screening services for cruise ships, the Florida Sun-Sentinel reported.

Six unidentified PSI employees also were detained for immigration violations.

Officials said during the investigation, Cetoute, PSI's operations manager, offered an informant and an undercover federal officer fake documents costing $350 that indicated they had completed state-mandated security guard training. She also allegedly provided the men with false certificates of firearms proficiency.

Officials said 203 PSI employees were being temporarily replaced by federal agents from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, customs and the Coast Guard.

Meanwhile, Broward County Sheriff Ken Jenne said most PSI guards “appear to be qualified for their jobs.”