9 Investigates: Contractor blunder at our Orlando International Airport

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ORLANDO, Fla. - Only 9 Investigates discovered that a company, with employees working inside Orlando International Airport's protected areas, was operating without a security license for more than two years.

That firm and its supervisor have been hit with big fines.

"You would expect them to know their stuff for the people that they're hiring. And make them follow the rules, and if they're not, check up on them," said passenger Joanne Lavita.

The subcontractor, DVI Services, had officers "working inside the 'sterile' area of the airport" even though it had no security license for 32 months, according to state investigators.

The primary contractor, which outsourced to DVI, is named Covenant Aviation Security.

Investigators discovered the blunder when they checked the ID tags of DVI security employees and found no state license number. After following up, they realized it was because DVI had no license.

Based on public documents, it appears that DVI had a $2.5 million subcontract to supply officers for screenings at employee and contractor access gates into airport property.

They did not screen passengers, which is the job of federal Transportation Safety Administration agents. But OIA passengers told 9 Investigates that any such oversight raises questions.

"That maybe we're not as safe as we think we are," said Yvette Nacario.

Airport officials will not confirm specifics, but insist passengers faced no risk. They said, even though DVI was not licensed, the employees themselves were certified to be doing the work they were doing.

In addition, they tell us, DVI is no longer a subcontractor for the airport.

According to investigators, Covenant connected its mistake of subcontracting with the unlicensed DVI to airport rules.

Covenant employees told reviewers, the Airport Authority required Covenant to subcontract some of its work to "disadvantaged businesses" and DVI was on a list of such business that the airport provided.

An airport spokeswoman disputes that and says DVI no longer works at the airport. DVI is facing an $8,000 fine.

State officials told 9 Investigates, the primary contractor, Covenant, is appealing the $24,000 fine it currently faces.