NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
PLANO — The City of Plano is investigating the background of a $200,000-a-year contractor after News 8 raised questions about his educational and military background.
Steve Haynes is currently the interim director of risk management for the city. He makes $204,000 a year in city contracts. The resume of his company — Southern Specialized Risk Options — bristles with military credits.
"Our staff includes former Navy SEALs, Navy bomb disposal technicians, former Secret Service agents, Delta Force operatives and former law enforcement officers," it states.
On one of his websites — until a week ago — Haynes claimed he is an ex-Navy Seal, recipient of the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. He said he is a college graduate and a 10-year police veteran with SWAT team experience.
Those qualifications are difficult, if not impossible, to prove. News 8 enlisted the help of Don Shipley, a former Navy SEAL, in reviewing Haynes' military records.
News 8 found Haynes in the City Hall parking lot in his pickup truck, which bears a Purple Heart license plate, along with SEAL and Underwater Demolition Team stickers.
Haynes told us he received the Purple Heart after participating in what he called the "Iranian hostage rescue" from the U.S.S. Nimitz, apparently referring to the failed mission to retrieve Americans from Iran in April 1980.
News 8 obtained his DD214, a paper trail of his military career, from the POW Foundation, which obtained it from the Navy. It includes neither a Purple Heart nor a Bronze Star.
The document indicates Haynes served aboard the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy — not the Nimitz.
Haynes said he was transferred to the Nimitz as a part of a secret mission, during which he was wounded. That led to his medals. He said he got the medals after he left the service, which is why they’re not on records supplied by the Navy.
Peter Bedrossian of the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor told News 8 Purple Hearts sometimes were awarded to veterans after their service in World War II and Korea, but rarely later. Haynes left the Navy in 1993.
Bedrossian added that "no Purple Hearts were awarded during the Iranian hostage rescue in April of 1980 because there was no hostile fire."
Haynes said he went to SEAL school, but was called away on special duty before he could graduate.
He claimed to be a classmate of Mike Rush, a bona fide SEAL, whom we contacted in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Rush said he didn’t remember Haynes, and the chances that Haynes was transferred out of SEAL training for special duty “begin at zero and go down from there.”
When pressed, Haynes said he was not a Navy SEAL.
Haynes says he got a bachelor's degree from Pacific Northwestern University by correspondence during his first four years in the Navy. He said Pacific Northwestern University is somewhere in Washington, but couldn’t remember the exact location.
The Navy told News 8 Pacific Northwestern has never existed.
News clippings from the Spokane Daily Chronicle and the Ellensburg Daily Record from 1978 said Pacific Northwestern was a "diploma mill" that sold degrees for $140 before shutting down the same year.
Haynes said he served 10 years with the Newport News Police Department in a career that culminated on the SWAT team — all while still in the Navy.
When pressed, he said he was an unpaid volunteer, known in Virginia as an "auxiliary officer." When asked to clarify his role on the tactical team as an auxiliary officer, Haynes said he helped guard the perimeter of incident scenes while other full-time, paid officers did typical SWAT work — such as entering buildings to serve high-risk warrants or extract barricaded people.
Plano says it is investigating Haynes' record, based on what News 8 discovered.
As part of his job as interim city risk manager, Haynes evaluating public buildings.
"The allegations are serious," said Jim Parrish, Plano’s deputy city manager. "To date, Steve has been an exemplary contract employee for the last seven years. He’s done a great job."