As part of our effort to track white collar enforcement trends with the new Administration we will be tracking developments in grant fraud enforcement and procurement fraud enforcement over at GrantFraud.Com that is under construction and open. You may click the title below to see a new grant fraud case filing involving GSA Advantage theft. As is often the case between election and inauguration, career employees under “acting” top managers start to react to perceptions about what the new Administration’s enforcemenet priorities will be. For a variety of reasons that Brad Geyer will be blogging about, we are projecting emboldened grant fraud and procurement fraud enforcement moving forward
“Protecting the federal procurement process from false claims is central to the mission of the Department of Justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “We will continue to ensure that when federal monies are used to purchase commercial services the government receives the prices and services to which it is entitled.”
“This settlement illustrates our commitment to protecting the integrity of federal contracting programs,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner for the Eastern District of California. “Federal agencies rely on pricing information under the Multiple Award Schedule program in particular, and deserve the full benefit of applicable contract terms.”
This settlement relates to contracts under which Iron Mountain provided record storage services to government entities from 2001 to 2014 through GSA’s Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. The MAS program provides the government with a streamlined process for procurement of commonly used commercial goods and services. The settlement resolves allegations that Iron Mountain failed to meet its contractual obligations to provide GSA with accurate information about its commercial sales practices during contract negotiations, and failed to comply with the price reduction clause of the GSA contracts by not extending lower prices to government customers during its performance of the contracts. It also resolves an allegation that Iron Mountain charged the United States for storage meeting National Archives and Records Administration requirements when the storage provided did not meet such requirements.
“My office will continue working diligently to make sure American taxpayers are getting the best value for every dollar spent,” said Acting Inspector General Robert C. Erickson for GSA.
The civil settlement resolves a lawsuit filed under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, which permits private parties to file suit on behalf of the United States for false claims and obtain a portion of the government’s recovery. The civil lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of California by Brent Stanley, a former Iron Mountain employee, and Patrick McKillop, who worked in the records management industry. Collectively, they will receive $8,010,000.
The settlement with Iron Mountain was the result of a coordinated effort among the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California, the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, the GSA’s Office of the Inspector General, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, the Defense Contract Audit Agency, the NASA Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General, U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Inspector General.
The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Brent Stanley and Patrick McKillop v. Iron Mountain Incorporated, Civil Action No. 11-3260 (E.D. Cal.). The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.
The court agreement was announced today by William J. Baer, Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division; Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney Vincent H. Cohen Jr. of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia; Robert C. Erickson, Acting Inspector General of the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA); Peggy E. Gustafson, Inspector General for the Small Business Administration (SBA), and Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office.
WGESystems, based in Virginia, is a wholly owned subsidiary of WGL Holdings Inc. (WGL). WGL is the parent company for all of the corporations within the Washington Gas family. WGESystems plays no direct role in the delivery of natural gas, and it is not a utility. It is a design-build firm that specializes in providing energy efficiency and sustainability solutions to clients.
A criminal information was filed today in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia charging WGESystems with one count of knowingly and willfully conspiring to commit major fraud on the United States. WGESystems waived the requirement of being charged by way of federal indictment, agreed to the filing of the information, and has accepted responsibility for its criminal conduct and that of its employees.
In addition, as part of a deferred prosecution agreement reached with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Antitrust Division, WGESystems agreed to pay a fine of $1,560,000 and a monetary penalty of $1,027,261 within five days of the approval of the agreement by the court.
According to court documents filed today, WGESystems conspired with a company that was eligible to receive federal government contracts set aside for small, disadvantaged businesses with the understanding that the business would illegally subcontract all of the work on the projects to WGESystems. In this way, WGESystems was able to capture a total of eight contracts worth $17,711,405 that should have gone to an eligible company. These contracts, awarded in 2010, were focused on making federal buildings in the Washington, D.C., area more energy efficient.
Under the illegal agreement, the company that was awarded these government contracts was allowed to keep 5.8 percent of the value of the contracts for allowing WGESystems to use the company’s small business status to win these contracts.
“Conspiracies to violate federal procurement laws will not be tolerated,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer for the Antitrust Division. “Taxpayers deserve to have contracting processes that are fair and competitive, and fully comply with applicable laws and regulations.”
“Time and time again, we have seen government contractors abuse and exploit programs designed to help minority and socially disadvantaged small businesses,” said Principal Assistant U.S. Attorney Cohen. “This Washington Gas subsidiary obtained millions of dollars in federal contracts by using a small business that had no ability to actually complete the contract as a front company. Even though the subsidiary lost money on these contracts, it is required to pay $2.5 million in fines and penalties under this agreement. This resolution should cause other contractors to think twice about playing fast and loose with federal contracting rules.”
“Cases like this are important for us to maintain the integrity of the federal contracting process,” said GSA Acting Inspector General Erickson. “Companies cannot cheat to win federal contracts and expect to get away with their ill-gotten gains.”
“SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program assists eligible socially and economically disadvantaged individuals in developing and growing their businesses,” said SBA Inspector General Gustafson. “Large businesses that fraudulently seek to gain access to contracts set aside for small businesses erode the public’s trust in this important program. I want to thank the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners for their professionalism and commitment to justice in this investigation.”
“Federal government contracting laws are in place to create a level playing field for small disadvantaged businesses whose work supports our country’s diverse financial infrastructure,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “The FBI with our law enforcement partners will investigate those companies who fraudulently abuse federal contracting laws with the purpose of increasing their company’s bottom line.”
According to the court documents, until 2010, GSA had an area-wide contract with WGESystems. This contract enabled GSA, without competition, to enter into contracts with WGESystems so that WGESystems could provide energy management services for federal buildings.
However, starting in 2010, the federal government changed its practices. The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act appropriated funds to make buildings in the District of Columbia and the surrounding area more energy efficient. These funds were to be awarded through the 8(a) program, which is administered by the SBA and which was created to help small, disadvantaged businesses access the federal procurement market.
To qualify for the 8(a) program, a business must be at least 51 percent-owned and controlled by a U.S. citizen (or citizens) of good character who meet the SBA’s definition of socially and economically disadvantaged. The firm also must be a small business (as defined by the SBA) and show a reasonable potential for success. Participants in the 8(a) program are subject to regulatory and contractual limits on subcontracting work from 8(a) set-aside contracts. The SBA regulations require, among other things, the 8(a) concern to agree that on construction contracts it “will perform at least 15 percent of the cost of the contract with its own employees (not including the costs of materials).”
As a result of this change, WGESystems – which was not certified to participate in the 8(a) program – faced the prospect of losing millions of dollars in revenue.
WGESystems, along with an 8(a) company it used to obtain these contracts, and others, engaged in and executed a scheme to defraud the SBA and GSA by, among other things: concealing that WGESystems, which was not eligible for the aforementioned SBA contracting preferences, exercised impermissible control over the 8(a) company’s bidding for and performance on GSA contracts; and misrepresenting that the 8(a) company was in compliance with SBA regulations pertaining to work on these contracts, including that the company’s employees had performed the required percentage of work on these contracts. Through these unlawful efforts, WGESystems and the 8(a) company with which it conspired obtained, at least, approximately $17,711,405 in U.S. government contracts related to work at eight different federal buildings. When these contracts were awarded, the 8(a) company’s registered place of business was the president of the company’s home, and the company had no employees who could provide design-build or contracting services.
WGESystems assisted the 8(a) company with identifying a project manager for the work at the eight buildings who was nominally an employee of the 8(a) company, but who, in actuality, took direction from WGESystems employees. For much of the relevant period, this project manager was the only employee of the 8(a) company performing work for any of the eight projects.
Under the agreement with WGESystems, the 8(a) company was entitled to 5.8 percent of the $17,711,405 total value of the contracts, which equals $1,027,261. To date, with all but one of the eight contracts completed or suspended, WGESystems has lost approximately $1,122,581 on the projects. WGESystems initially anticipated a profit margin that would have equaled about $1,560,000.
Since being informed of this investigation by the Justice Department, WGESystems has taken steps to enhance and optimize its internal controls, policies and procedures.
In light of the company’s remedial actions to date and its willingness to acknowledge responsibility for its actions, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia and the Antitrust Division will recommend the dismissal of the Information in two years, provided WGESystems fully cooperates with, and abides by, the terms of the deferred prosecution agreement.
This investigation was conducted by the Inspector General’s Offices of the U.S. General Services Administration and the Small Business Administration and the FBI’s Washington Field Office. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Graves of the Fraud and Public Corruption Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and Assistant Chief Craig Y. Lee and Trial Attorney Diana Kane, both of the Antitrust Division’s Washington Criminal I Section.
Virginia-Based Move Management Company Pays More Than $500,000 to Settle Overbilling Claims in Connection with Transportation of Personal Property in Relocating Federal Employees
RE/MAX Allegiance Relocation Services, a Virginia-based move management company, has agreed to pay the government $509,807 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by overbilling for transportation services, the Department of Justice announced today.
“Today’s settlement demonstrates our continuing vigilance to ensure that those doing business with the government do so legally and honestly and that taxpayer funds are not misused,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Stuart F. Delery. “Government contractors who seek to profit at the expense of taxpayers will be held accountable.”
The settlement relates to allegations involving contracts to transport personal property of federal employees relocating duty stations within the United States and between the United States and Canada. The government alleged that the defendant charged for move management services that were not provided and overbilled agencies on other moves by charging inapplicable tariff rates.
“We encourage whistleblowers to provide us with useful information to help us combat all manners of fraud on the U.S. Government,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Dana J. Boente.
“We will continue to investigate allegations of federal contractors fraudulently maximizing their profits at the expense of American taxpayers,” said U.S. General Services Administration Acting Inspector General Robert C. Erickson.
The settlement resolves allegations filed in a lawsuit by Michael Angel, a former employee of RE/MAX Allegiance Relocation Services, in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia. The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery. The act also allows the government to intervene and take over the action, as it did in this case. Angel will receive $86,667.
The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division of the Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General, U.S. Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, Department of Agriculture Office of Inspector General and NASA Office of Inspector General.
The case is captioned United States ex rel. Michael Angel v. Franconia Real Estate Services, Inc., d/b/a RE/MAX Allegiance Relocation Services; No. 1:12cv764 (E.D.Va.). The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.
The Justice Department’s fiscal year 2013 efforts recovered more than $3 billion for the fourth year in a row and are surpassed only by last year’s nearly $5 billion in recoveries. As in previous years, the largest recoveries related to health care fraud, which reached $2. 6 billion. Procurement fraud (related primarily to defense contracts) accounted for another $ 890 million – a record in that area.
“It has been another banner year for civil fraud recoveries, but more importantly, it has been a great year for the taxpayer and for the millions of Americans, state agencies and organizations that benefit from government programs and contracts,” said Assistant Attorney General Delery. “The $3. 8 billion in federal False Claims Act recoveries in fiscal year 2013, plus another $443 million in recoveries for state Medicaid programs, restores scarce taxpayer dollars to federal and state governments. The government’s success in these cases is also a strong deterrent to others who would misuse public funds, which means government programs designed to keep us safer, healthier and economically more prosperous can do so without the corrosive effects of fraud and false claims.”
The False Claims Act is the government’s primary civil remedy to redress false claims for government funds and property under government contracts, including national security and defense contracts, as well as under government programs as varied as Medicare, veterans benefits, federally insured loans and mortgages, transportation and research grants, agricultural supports, school lunches and disaster assistance. In 1986, Congress strengthened the Act by amending it to increase incentives for whistleblowers to file lawsuits on behalf of the government, which has led to more investigations and greater recoveries.
Most false claims actions are filed under the Act’s whistleblower, or qui tam, provisions, which allow private citizens to file lawsuits alleging false claims on behalf of the government. If the government prevails in the action, the whistleblower, known as a relator, receives up to 30 perc ent of the recovery. The number of qui tam suits filed in fiscal year 2013 soared to 752 –100 more than the record set the previous fiscal year. Recoveries in qui tam cases during fiscal year 2013 totaled $2. 9 billion , with whistleblowers recovering $345 million.
Health Care Fraud
The $2. 6 billion in health care fraud recoveries in fiscal year 2013 marks four straight years the department has recovered more than $2 billion in cases involving health care fraud. This steady, significant and continuing success can be attributed to the high priority the Obama Administration has placed on fighting health care fraud. In 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the creation of an interagency task force, the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), to increase coordination and optimize criminal and civil enforcement. This coordination has yielded historic results: From January 2009 through the end of the 2013 fiscal year, the department used the False Claims Act to recover $12 .1 billion in federal health care dollars. Most of these recoveries relate to fraud against Medicare and Medicaid. Additional information on the government’s efforts in this area is available at StopMedicareFraud.gov, a webpage jointly established by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services.
Some of the largest recoveries this past fiscal year involved allegations of fraud and false claims in the pharmaceutical and medical device industries. Of the $2. 6 billion in federal health care fraud recoveries, $1.8 billion were from alleged false claims for drugs and medical devices under federally insured health programs that, in addition to Medicare and Medicaid, include TRICARE, which provides benefits for military personnel and their families, veterans’ health care programs and the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. The department recovered an additional $443 million for state Medicaid programs.
Many of these settlements involved allegations that pharmaceutical manufacturers improperly promoted their drugs for uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – a practice known as “off-label marketing.” For example, drug manufacturer Abbott Laboratories Inc. paid $1.5 billion to resolve allegations that it illegally promoted the drug Depakote to treat agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients and schizophrenia when neither of these uses was approved as safe and effective by the FDA. This landmark $1.5 billion settlement included $575 million in federal civil recoveries, $225 million in state civil recoveries and nearly $700 million in criminal fines and forfeitures. In another major pharmaceutical case, biotech giant Amgen Inc. paid the government $762 million, including $598.5 million in False Claims Act recoveries, to settle allegations that included its illegal promotion of Aranesp, a drug used to treat anemia, in doses not approved by the FDA and for off-label use to treat non-anemia-related conditions. For details, see Abbott, Abbott sentencing, and Amgen.
The department also settled allegations relating to the manufacture and distribution of adulterated drugs. For example, generic drug manufacturer Ranbaxy USA Inc. paid $505 million to settle allegations of false claims to federal and state health care programs for adulterated drugs distributed from its facilities in India. The settlement included $237 million in federal civil claims, $118 million in state civil claims and $150 million in criminal fines and forfeitures. For details, see Ranbaxy.
Adding to its successes under the False Claims Act, the Civil Division’s Consumer Protection Branch, together with U.S. Attorneys across the country, obtained 16 criminal convictions and more than $1. 3 billion in criminal fines, forfeitures and disgorgement under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). The FDCA protects the health and safety of the public by ensuring, among other things, that drugs intended for use in humans are safe and effective for their intended uses and that the labeling of such drugs bears true, complete and accurate information.
In other areas of health care fraud, the department obtained a $237 million judgment against South Carolina-based Tuomey Healthcare System Inc., after a four-week trial, for violating the Stark Law and the False Claims Act. The Stark Law prohibits hospitals from submitting claims to Medicare for patients referred to the hospital by physicians who have a prohibited financial relationship with the hospital. Tuomey’s appeal of the $237 million judgment is pending. If the judgment is affirmed on appeal, this will be the largest judgment in the history of the Stark Law. For the court’s opinion, see Tuomey.
The department also recovered $26.3 million in a settlement with Steven J. Wasserman M.D., a dermatologist practicing in Florida, to resolve allegations that he entered into an illegal kickback arrangement with Tampa Pathology Laboratory that resulted in increased claims to Medicare. Tampa Pathology Laboratory previously paid the government $950,000 for its role in the alleged scheme. The $26.3 million settlement is one of the largest with an individual in the history of the False Claims Act. For details, see Wasserman.
Fiscal year 2013 was a record year for procurement fraud matters. The department secured more than $887 million in settlements and judgments based on allegations of false claims and corruption involving government contracts. Prominent among these successes was the department’s $664 million judgment against Connecticut-based defense contractor United Technologies Corp. (UTC). A federal court found UTC liable for making false statements to the Air Force in negotiating the price of a contract for fighter jet engines. In 2004, the department had won a smaller judgment after a three-month trial. Both sides appealed, but the government’s arguments prevailed, resulting in the case being returned to the trial court to reassess damages. The $664 million judgment, which UTC has appealed, is the largest judgment in the history of the False Claims Act and, if the appellate court affirms, will be the largest procurement recovery in history. For details, see UTC.
The department also settled allegations of false claims with two companies in connection with their contracts with the General Services Administration (GSA) to market their products through the Multiple Award Schedule (MAS) program. To be awarded a MAS contract, and thereby gain access to the broad government marketplace, contractors must provide GSA with complete, accurate and current information about their commercial sales practices, including discounts afforded to their commercial customers. The government alleged that W.W. Grainger Inc., a national hardware distributor headquartered in Illinois, and Ohio-based RPM International Inc. and its subsidiary, Tremco Inc., a roofing supplies and services firm, failed to disclose discounts given to their commercial customers, which resulted in government customers paying higher prices. The department recovered $70 million from W.W. Grainger in a settlement that also included allegations relating to a U.S. Postal Services contract and $61 million from RPM International Inc. and Tremco. For details, see Grainger, RPM/Tremco.
Other Fraud Recoveries
A $45 million settlement with Japan-based Toyo Ink S.C. Holdings Co. Ltd. and its Japanese and United States affiliates (collectively Toyo) demonstrates the breadth of cases the department pursues. This settlement resolved allegations that Toyo misrepresented the country of origin on documents presented to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection to evade antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of the colorant carbazole violet pigment into the United States. These duties protect U.S. businesses by offsetting unfair foreign pricing and foreign government subsidies. For details, see Toyo.
The False Claims Act also is used to redress grant fraud. In a significant case involving a grant from the Department of Education, Education Holdings Inc. (formerly The Princeton Review Inc.) paid $10 million to resolve allegations that the company fabricated attendance records for thousands of hours of afterschool tutoring of students that was funded by the federal grant. For details, see Education Holdings.
Recoveries in Whistleblower Suits
Of the $3. 8 billion the department recovered in fiscal year 2013, $2. 9 billion related to lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. During the same period, the department paid out more than $345 million to the courageous individuals who exposed fraud and false claims by filing a qui tam complaint. (The average share paid to whistleblowers in fiscal year 2013 cannot be determined from these numbers because the awards paid to whistleblowers in one fiscal year do not always coincide with the fiscal year in which the case was resolved, and the fiscal year’s recoveries may include amounts to settle allegations outside the whistleblower’s complaint.)
Whistleblower lawsuits were in the range of three to four hundred per year from 2000 to 2009, when they began their climb from 433 lawsuits in fiscal year 2009 to 752 lawsuits in fiscal year 2013. Due to the complexity of fraud investigations generally, the outcomes of many of the qui tam cases filed this past fiscal year are not yet known, but the growing number of lawsuits filed since 2009 have led to increased recoveries. Qui tam recoveries exceeded $2 billion for the first time in fiscal year 2010 and have continued to exceed that amount every year since. Qui tam recoveries this past fiscal year bring the department’s totals since January 2009 to $13.4 billion. During the same period, the department paid out $1.98 billion in whistleblower awards.
“These recoveries would not have been possible without the brave contributions made by ordinary men and women who made extraordinary sacrifices to expose fraud and corruption in government programs,” said Assistant Attorney General Delery. “We are also grateful to Congress and its continued support of strengthening the False Claims Act, including its qui tam provisions, giving the department the tools necessary to pursue false claims.”
In 1986, Senator Charles Grassley and Representative Howard Berman led successful efforts in Congress to amend the False Claims Act to, among other things, encourage whistleblowers to come forward with allegations of fraud. In 2009, Senator Patrick J. Leahy, along with Senator Grassley and Representative Berman, championed the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009, which made additional improvements to the False Claims Act and other fraud statutes. And in 2010, the passage of the Affordable Care Act provided additional inducements and protections for whistleblowers and strengthened the provisions of the federal health care Anti-Kickback Statute.
Assistant Attorney General Delery also expressed his deep appreciation for the dedicated public servants who investigated and pursued these cases. These individuals include attorneys, investigators, auditors and other agency personnel throughout the Justice Department’s Civil Division, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, the Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services, the various Offices of Inspector General and the many other federal and state agencies that contributed to the department’s recoveries this past fiscal year.
“The department’s continued success in recovering fraudulent claims for taxpayer money this past fiscal year is a product of the tremendous skill and dedication of the people who worked on these cases and investigations and continue to work hard to protect against the misuse of taxpayer dollars,” said Delery.
Sacramento Bee: “Patricia Davis, former Assistant Director, USDOJ Civil Division, joins GeyerGorey LLP”
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Inspector General Paul K. Martin; SBA Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson; Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge of Mid-Atlantic Field Office Robert E. Craig; General Services Administration (GSA) Inspector General Brian D. Miller; and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Inspector General Charles K. Edwards made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee.
“Keith Hedman used his expertise gleaned from decades as a government contractor to cheat the system and steal tens of millions from minority-owned small business owners,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Raman. “Today’s sentence shows that those who resort to deceit and bribery to secure federal contracts will be caught and held accountable.”
“Keith Hedman tried to game the system and take advantage of a government program designed to help minority-owned small businesses,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. “He committed fraud, he undermined the trust of the U.S. government and this type of conduct will not be tolerated. My office is committed to prosecuting those who cheat the government to the fullest extent of the law.” “I commend the outstanding efforts of our agents and the other law enforcement agencies involved in this case in protecting the integrity of the Federal Government’s procurement program and taxpayer dollars” said NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin.
Keith Hedman, 53, of Arlington, Va., was sentenced today after pleading guilty to major government fraud and conspiracy to commit bribery on March 13, 2013. Hedman was also ordered to forfeit approximately $6.1 million.
According to court documents, in or about 2011 Hedman formed Company A, which was approved to participate in the 8(a) program based on the 8(a) eligibility of its listed president and CEO, an African-American female. When the listed president and CEO left Company A in 2003, Hedman became its sole owner, and the company was no longer 8(a)-eligible.
In 2003, Hedman created Company B, another Arlington-based security contractor, to ensure that he could continue to gain access to 8(a) contracting preferences for which Company A was no longer qualified. Prior to applying for Company B’s 8(a) status, Hedman selected an employee, Dawn Hamilton, 48, of Brownsville, Md., to serve as a figurehead owner based on her Portuguese heritage and history of social disadvantage. In reality, the new company was managed by Hedman and Company A senior leadership in violation of 8(a) rules and regulations. To deceive the SBA, the co-conspirators falsely claimed that Hamilton formed and founded the company and that she was the only member of the company’s management. Based on those misrepresentations, Company B obtained 8(a) status in 2004.
From 2004 through February 2012, Hedman – not Hamilton – impermissibly exercised ultimate decision-making authority and control over Company B by directing its finances, allocation of personnel, and government contracting activities. Hedman nonetheless maintained the impression that Hamilton was leading the company, including through forgeries of signatures of Hamilton to documents she had not seen or drafted. Hedman also retained ultimate control over the shell business’s bank accounts throughout its existence. In 2010, Hedman withdrew $1 million in cash from Company B’s accounts and gave the funds in cash to Hamilton and three other conspirators. In 2011, Hedman approached Hamilton’s brother about starting another shell company to continue the scheme. The trio submitted another fraudulent application to the SBA, but it was rejected.
Later in 2011, Hedman agreed to pay Derek Matthews, 47, of Harwood, Md., the former FPS Regional Director for the National Capital Region, $50,000 and a percentage of new business in exchange for Matthews helping Company B obtain contracts. During the bribery scheme, Matthews served as FPS Deputy Assistant Director for Operations, a law enforcement position in which he had daily oversight of physical security programs and oversight of approximately 13,000 FPS officers at approximately 9,000 federal buildings.
In total, the scheme netted government contracts valued at more than $153 million, from which Company B obtained more than $31 million in contract payments. The various conspirators netted more than $6.1 million that they were not entitled to receive from those payments. Seven other defendants have pleaded guilty in the scheme.
This case is being investigated by NASA Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the SBA -OIG, DCIS-OIG, GSA-OIG, and DHS-OIG, with assistance from the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Golder and Ryan Faulconer, a former Trial Attorney for the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Inspector General Paul K. Martin; SBA Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson; Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge of Mid-Atlantic Field Office Robert E. Craig; General Services Administration (GSA) Inspector General Brian D. Miller; and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Inspector General Charles K. Edwards made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.
Joseph Richards, 52, of Arlington, Va., and David Lux, 66, of Springfield, Va., were sentenced today to 27 and 15 months in prison, respectively, after pleading guilty in March 2013 to conspiracy to commit major government fraud. Both men were ordered to complete community service as part of their supervised release following their prison terms. Richards was ordered to pay $120,378 in restitution, and Lux was ordered to forfeit $115,556.
According to court documents, Richards and Lux were executives at an Arlington-based security contracting firm referred to as Company A in court records. In approximately 2001, Keith Hedman, 53, of Arlington, formed Company A, which was approved to participate in the 8(a) program based on the 8(a) eligibility of its listed president and CEO, an African-American female. When the listed president and CEO left Company A in 2003, Hedman became its sole owner, and the company was no longer 8(a)-eligible.
In 2003, Hedman created Company B, another Arlington-based security contractor, to ensure that he could continue to gain access to 8(a) contracting preferences for which Company A was no longer qualified. Prior to applying for Company B’s 8(a) status, Hedman selected an employee, Dawn Hamilton, 48, of Brownsville, Md., to serve as a figurehead owner based on her Portuguese heritage and history of social disadvantage. In reality, the new company was managed by Hedman and Company A senior leadership in violation of 8(a) rules and regulations. To deceive the SBA, the co-conspirators falsely claimed that Hamilton formed and founded the company and that she was the only member of the company’s management. Based on those misrepresentations, Company B obtained 8(a) status in 2004. From 2004 through February 2012, Hedman – not Hamilton – impermissibly exercised ultimate decision-making authority and control over Company B by directing its finances, allocation of personnel, and government contracting activities.
Richards and Lux joined the scheme in 2005 and 2008, respectively. Hedman offered Richards and Lux ownership stakes in Company B in exchange for their assistance in misleading the SBA and other U.S. government agencies, and both men accepted. Once they joined the conspiracy, Richards and Lux took a variety of actions to further the fraud against the United States. In 2008, for example, both Richards and Lux helped Company B overcome a protest by another company that accused Company A and Company B of improperly obtaining a $48 million Coast Guard contract.
From 2008 to 2010, Richards moved to Company B’s payroll to help Hedman illegally operate Company B. In 2010, Lux helped Hedman withdraw more than $1 million in cash from Company B’s accounts, which Hedman then disbursed to various conspirators, including $100,000 in cash to both Richards and Lux. Richards and Lux also assisted Hedman, Hamilton, and other co-conspirators prepare false documents, including annual reviews, to submit to SBA and other government agencies.
In total, the scheme netted government contracts valued at more than $153 million, from which Company B obtained more than $31 million in contract payments. The various conspirators netted more than $6.1 million that they were not entitled to receive from those payments.
Six other defendants have pleaded guilty in the scheme:
• Hedman is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee on June 21, 2013. • Hamilton is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis, III on June 28, 2013. • David Sanborn, 60, of Lexington, S.C., Company A’s former president, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S District Judge Claude M. Hilton on July 19, 2013. • John Hertogs, 42, of Winter Springs, Fl., Company B’s former director of operations, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Hilton on July 12, 2013, for submitting a fraudulent 8(a) application for a follow-on company that Hedman and Hamilton intended to use once Company B graduated from the 8(a) program. • Derek Matthews, 47, of Harwood, Md., former Regional Director for the National Capital Region of the Federal Protective Service, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Brinkema on July 19, 2013, for a related bribery scheme in which Hedman agreed to pay Matthews $50,000 and a percentage of new business in exchange for Matthews helping Company B obtain contracts. • Michael Dunkel, 59, of Merritt Island, Fl., is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Lee on Oct. 4, 2013, for obtaining more than $4.4 million in payments by using Company B as a pass-through company on NASA contracts.
This case is being investigated by NASA Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the SBA -OIG, DCIS-OIG, GSA-OIG, and DHS-OIG, with assistance from the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Golder and Ryan Faulconer, a former Trial Attorney for the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.
Neil H. MacBride, U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Mythili Raman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, and Charles K. Edwards, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Inspector General, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.
Matthews was charged by criminal information on April 11, 2013, with one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Matthews faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison when he is sentenced on July 19, 2013.
Matthews served as Deputy Assistant Director for Operations for the DHS’s Federal Protective Services (FPS) and was later promoted to FPS Regional Director for the National Capital Region. In the fall of 2011, Matthews agreed with Keith Hedman, an executive at an Arlington, Va., security service consulting company referred to as Company B in court records, that in exchange for a monthly payment from Company B and a percentage of any new business obtained, Matthews would use his position to help Company B find and win U.S. government contracts, including with FPS. Matthews engaged in a series of official acts, including lobbying of government officials and sharing of information with Hedman, in an effort to obtain business for Hedman and Company B. In turn, Hedman and Company B paid Matthews three monthly payments totaling $12,500.
Hedman pleaded guilty on March 18, 2013, to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with Matthews’ scheme, along with conspiracy to commit major government fraud as part of a separate scheme to fraudulently obtain more than $31 million in government contract payments that should have gone to disadvantaged small businesses.
This case was investigated by the Washington Field Office for the DHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration OIG, the Small Business Administration OIG, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the General Services Administration OIG. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Golder and Ryan Faulconer are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.