Monday, October 8, 2018

Product Substitution Case is Settled

Ten years ago, the Treasury Department created TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) to help stabilize the economy during a financial crisis. Eight years ago, the Treasury Department created the BEP (Blight Elimination Program), one of several TARP programs. The BEP funded the demolition of abandoned and blighted residential properties in certain cities, including Fort Wayne, Indiana.

The City of Fort Wayne was a BEP program partner, using Federal funds to demolish houses in blighted areas of the city. One of the contractors hired to perform the demolition work was a company called Martin Enterprise, Inc.

Under the terms of the contract, Martin was required to fill in excavation sites with clean fill dirt. Instead of using clean fill dirt, Martin figured that it could save a lot of money by filling the excavation sites with construction debris. That was a problem. First of all, construction debris might contain hazardous materials which of course, public safety would be jeopardized. Secondly, the Government paid for clean fill dirt, not construction debris.

Somehow Martin got caught. The Justice Department press release on the matter did not disclose how Martin was caught. It could have been a site inspector (highly likely) or a whistleblower (less likely, in this case).

In order to settle False Claims charges for fraudulently submitting claims for work not performed properly, Martin agreed to pay the Government $61 thousand.

The Government had a lot of choice words for Martin:

  • dishonest
  • ill-gotten gains
  • put residents and communities at risk
  • fleecing taxpayers
  • seek to enrich themselves

To read the full Justice Department press release, click here.

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