By Shawn Chitnis

WESTMINSTER, Colo. (CBS4) – A Colorado-based cybersecurity company spoke out Wednesday against the arrest of two of its employees by a sheriff in Iowa for breaking into a county courthouse. Coalfire says they were hired for that job by the state to test the security of publicly-owned buildings.

(credit: CBS)

“I mean it’s very common, we do hundreds of these a year,” said Tom McAndrew, the CEO of Coalfire, which is based in Westminster. “Myself, I’ve done these many times over the past two decades.”

Gary Demercurio and Justin Wynn were charged with burglary by the Dallas County Sheriff’s Office, but now face a lesser charge of trespassing. McAndrew wants the charges dropped.

Coalfire employees Gary Demercurio and Justin Wynn face trespassing charges for testing technology in Iowa.

Coalfire employees Gary Demercurio and Justin Wynn face trespassing charges for testing technology in Iowa. (credit: CBS)

But the sheriff says he did not know about the contract and the decision by the state could have caused serious harm because law enforcement wasn’t notified.

“It could have ended very poorly, five deputies potentially killing two people in a courthouse,” Sheriff Chad Leonard testified before lawmakers in Iowa. “It could have ended a lot worse.”

(credit: CBS)

State leaders admitted that there was a misunderstanding with the company about testing that would be done electronically and physically in person. They also got confused about testing happening at state-managed buildings and those run by local counties, including the courthouse in Dallas County.

There was also a test break-in at another courthouse by the same two employees, but no charges were filed, according to KCCI-TV.

“In our efforts to protect Iowans from cyber attacks, mistakes were made,” said Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Cady before lawmakers. “We are doing everything we can to make sure they never occur again.”

(credit: CBS)

McAndrew spoke to CBS4 over video call while outside of Colorado on Wednesday. He says his company is working with his employees to clear their names, including covering the legal expenses to get them out of jail after they were arrested.

“I just would like to see some common sense injected into this and that just doesn’t seem to be happening from our perspective,” he said.

Shawn Chitnis

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