At least four North Carolina state agencies bought expensive high-tech surveillance gear from a private security firm tied to state Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, reports the Raleigh News & Observer. The powerful Democrat has served as board chairman for Raleigh-based Law Enforcement Associates Inc. since 2003. The state bought at least $192,683 in equipment from LEA during the past five years, including a $2,695 jacket with a hidden camera for undercover stings. In some cases, the purchases were made without seeking competitive bids.
In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, LEA’s former chief executive officer accused Rand of insider trading as part of a scheme to enrich 50 state officials. Rand, who announced last month that he will resign his legislative seat to become chairman of the state parole commission, has called the fraud accusation “hogwash” spread by a disgruntled former employee. LEA’s products are so secret the firm’s online catalog can only be viewed with a password. In a presentation meant to woo Wall Street investors, an executive boasted that the firm’s products are like those designed for James Bond. Items the company makes include recording devices disguised as such everyday items as a $7,995 drinking cup as well as kits to convert surplus police cruisers into unassuming taxicabs with multiple hidden cameras.