A licensed armed guard with a troubled history as a police officer has been sentenced to five years in prison and five years’ probation for brutally beating a man during an attempted arrest.
Nicholas Dimauro, a former Atlanta police officer, was found guilty just before Christmas of aggravated battery, aggravated assault and two counts of violation of oath of office for beating Robert Wormeley until his lung collapsed in 2010.
Dimauro’s case is an example of how easily police officers who have abused their powers can make the switch to the armed-guard profession.
Over his 10 years with the Atlanta Police Department, records show the 32-year-old had racked up 11 complaints of excessive force. One beating occurred after a driver pulled over for an expired tag ran into a nearby wooded area. Dimauro and two other officers were captured on cellphone video hitting the suspect, which eventually led to the revocation of Dimauro’s law enforcement credentials.
But that didn’t stop Dimauro from quickly donning a uniform and carrying a gun.
A Center for Investigative Reporting examination found Dimauro was among dozens of armed guards licensed by state regulators despite troubled histories in law enforcement. The profession has become a haven for failed law enforcement officers because licensing agencies either do not check or seem to care much about the former officers’ disciplinary records.
“It is very common” for decertified police officers to seek employment in private security, regulators said. But only one state, Oregon, looks for past disciplinary information.
In Georgia, where Dimauro received his license, regulators routinely licensed armed guards with bad records in law enforcement, according to state licensing records. Out of 40 regulatory board orders meting out discipline of current guards or approving applications, CIR found 28 percent were for former officers with documented histories of misconduct or abuse.
Regulators were aware of Dimauro’s disciplinary problems when the officer applied for an armed-guard license in 2013. But the state Board of Private Detective and Security Agencies issued him the license anyway.
The board’s chairman, Glade Johnson, said he could not discuss specific cases, but he said the board heavily bases its decision on the officer’s appearance and explanation.
“I would say that most of the former police officers – even if they have [Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council] problems – most of them get licensed,” Johnson said.
After getting his armed-guard license, records show Dimauro worked for GardaWorld, one of the country’s largest providers of armored-car guards. GardaWorld declined to comment on Dimauro’s employment, citing “a corporate policy not to discuss our personnel procedures or disclose any information about our personnel,” said spokesman Joe Gavaghan.
Reached by phone before his trial, Dimauro declined to speak with CIR about his career or criminal charges.
The beating that led to Dimauro’s arrest occurred in the early morning hours of Sept. 4, 2010, after Dimauro stopped Wormeley, who he later told internal affairs investigators appeared inebriated and was walking in the middle of the street.
CIR could not reach Wormeley for comment, but internal affairs records reveal his frame of mind that morning: He told internal affairs officers that he was on probation and wanted to get home for his birthday.
Dimauro asked Wormeley for his identification. Wormeley did not have his ID and offered his name and Social Security number. “That won’t work, put your hands on the car,” Dimauro said, according to Wormeley. Instead, Wormeley ran and Dimauro chased after him, tackling him in a nearby backyard.
Dimauro told internal affairs investigators that Wormeley fought him. Wormeley denied fighting back. After getting kicked and punched in the head and ribs repeatedly, Wormeley landed in the hospital with a collapsed lung, a fractured arm, two broken ribs and a gash on the back of his head that required five staples, according to internal affairs documents.
“They beat the hell out of me,” Wormeley told an internal affairs investigator at the hospital. “I swear, all I did wrong is keep my arms down to keep from getting hit in the face.”
In addition to injuring Wormeley, Dimauro also arrested him on charges of battery and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.
“When I put my arm up like this, he kept hitting me and hitting me again,” Wormeley said. “He kept hitting me and hitting me, he said, ‘You’re under arrest for assault.’ ”
The charges against Wormeley later were dismissed, and Dimauro remained under internal investigation until 2012. Internal affairs investigators recommended his firing, but department officials overturned the ruling. His law enforcement credentials were revoked in 2013 – five months after he had received permission to work as an armed guard.
This story was edited by Amy Pyle and copy edited by Sheela Kamath.