Thursday, October 12, 2017

Subcontractor Pays $235 Thousand to Settle False Claims Charges

Late last month, we wrote about a $2 million settlement involving a DOE (Department of Energy) subcontractor who subcontracted some of its work to a third company who, it turned out, was a small  woman-owned business but had no employees or equipment (see $2 Million Settlement in Small Business Subcontracting Fraud).

This week, the Justice Department announced settlement with the other company, Sage Tec LLC. Sage Tec and its owner agreed to pay $235,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act (FCA) in connection with two small business subcontracts.

The prime contractor, responsible for environmental remediation at Hanford, was required to award a certain percentage of subcontracts to eligible and qualified small and disadvantaged businesses, including woman-owned small businesses. The requirement flowed down to its subcontractors as well. One of the subcontractors, FE&C (Federal Engineers and Constructors) awarded two subcontracts to Sage-Tec, an entity that purported to be a small, disadvantaged business. 

Initially, a lawsuit was brought forth by a whistleblower. The Government later enjoined the suit. The basic charge was that the prime contractor, FE&C, and Sage Tec knowingly misrepresented Sage Tec to be a qualified disadvantaged small business in order to be eligible for two multi-million  dollar subcontracts that were designated for truly qualified small disadvantaged businesses. Sage Tec, it turns out, was not a legitimate small, disadvantaged business; rather it was a pass-through front company for FE&C, which performed substantially all of the work that should have been performed by Sage Tec.

The Government continues to investigate the Prime contractor for its role in the matter. The original whistle-blower stands to make a lot of money. On this Sage Tec settlement, the whistleblower will receive $47 thousand. On the aforementioned FE&C settlement, the whistleblower earned $470 thousand. If the prime contractor settles, the whistleblower will probably get a cut of the settlement amount as well.

You can read the full Justice Department press release here.

Here's a link to a related article appearing in the local newspaper.

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