Mayor Brandon Johnson’s ex-chief of staff joins private security firm that hires Chicago cops

Mayor Brandon Johnson’s former chief of staff, Richard Guidice, is going to work for a suburban private security company that employs current and former Chicago police and other law enforcement officers, the company announced a day after Guidice resigned.

Blue Star Security, a Des Plaines-based firm founded in 2009 by two Chicago police officers, announced Tuesday that Guidice will join their team as director of business development. In an email statement, the company wrote, “The safety and security of our clients, the people of Illinois and those visiting our great state is a shared passion of both Blue Star and Rich so combining forces is a win for all and an absolute perfect fit.”

Related Articles

Guidice stepped down as Johnson’s top deputy Monday following a City Hall career that stretched back to the administration of former Mayor Richard M. Daley. He has been replaced by Cristina Pacione-Zayas, a former state senator who was Johnson’s deputy chief of staff since the beginning of his term in office.

Guidice led the Office of Emergency Management and Communications before he joined Johnson’s cabinet last spring. Blue Star portrayed Guidice’s city government-heavy resume as unique expertise.

“With three decades of experience in municipal government, Rich has extensive knowledge of the city’s management and operations, and Chicago’s vibrantly diverse communities,” Blue Star Security’s announcement said. “During his time with OEMC, Guidice spearheaded planning and coordination for the protection of people and property during large-scale events drawing national and international attention to Chicago.”

Blue Star Security’s website notes it hires “hundreds” of active and retired members of law enforcement and serves Fortune 500 companies, small businesses and other entities. However, some of those employees have attracted scrutiny in recent years.

In 2022, the Tribune reported the FBI and Cook County sheriff’s office were investigating allegations of ghost-payrolling at the sheriff’s office involving at least nine sheriff’s employees, including one high-ranking official, sources said at the time. As part of the investigation, the FBI sought payroll records from Blue Star Security that, according to the company’s website at the time, employed staffers with the sheriff’s office.

Blue Star Security confirmed to the Tribune in 2022 that it turned over documents the FBI requested but the “investigation is in no relation to any wrongdoing done by the company itself.” In a statement Wednesday, the firm said the company has “not been contacted about anything since the initial story broke” and that the firm “had nothing to do with any of the accusations back then which we quickly proved.”

A federal law enforcement source said Wednesday the investigation was ongoing but had not led to any criminal charges. Sheriff Tom Dart’s spokesman Matt Walberg said Wednesday the sheriff’s office’s reached out to the FBI for assistance in its investigation, which he said is also “ongoing.”

“At this point, there is no indication that any sheriff’s office employee committed time fraud while working for Blue Star Security,” Walberg said.

A year ago, the mayor’s decision to tap Guidice as his chief of staff signaled the newly elected mayor was keeping a semblance of Chicago politics’ old guard at City Hall even as Johnson’s grassroots labor coalition was preaching it would reform city government and do away with archaic ways of governing. Before becoming Johnson’s chief of staff, Guidice had retired from working for the city but came out of retirement for the post. His departure has proven to be Johnson’s biggest personnel shakeup yet, coming ahead of this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Chicago, a sure-to-be-rowdy event that the former OEMC chief had said he looked forward to administering.

Blue Star Security’s statement hinted that City Hall’s loss is the private firm’s gain and touted that Guidice led the coordination of massive events such as the 2012 NATO Summit, former President Barack Obama’s 2008 celebration in Grant Park. as well as crises including the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent influx of migrants in Chicago.

Among its clients listed on the Blue Star Security website are several entertainment companies such as Cinespace Chicago and Showtime, ComEd, the Magnificent Mile Association and the United Center.

Chicago Tribune’s Jason Meisner contributed.