You may remember stories of the Department of Defense paying $100 or more for a simple hammer or a bolt. Whether or not those stories are fair, defense contract fraud remains a real concern. That concern was realized recently when the former co-owner of a company contracted to do work in Iraq pleaded guilty to filing false claims with the federal government.
Jill Ann Charpia, former co-owner of Sourcing Specialist LLC has pleaded guilty to falsifying documents related to Iraq reconstruction government contracts. Sourcing Specialist LLC was contracted to deliver a turn-key housing facility in an area outside the international zone to aid in the introduction of international business development in Iraq. Very quickly, Ms. Charpia began submitting fake invoices to the Department of Defense claiming to have made expenditures for the project that she never actually made or for which she had paid only a portion of the total amount claims. The Defense Department paid Ms. Charpia $1,270,075.50, according to the Justice Department. Ms. Charpia admitted, however, that she falsified the invoices and forged signatures on the documents.
When Ms. Charpia faces sentencing later this year, she could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000 or two times the monetary gain or loss, as well as up to three years’ probation. Ms. Charpia has agreed to pay restitution totaling $920,000 plus interest.
Whistleblowers Stand Up Against Fraud.
As with other types of fraud against the government, federal prosecutors often rely on whistleblowers to uncover evidence of defense contract fraud. Whistleblowers perform a valuable service to our country by standing up against fraud and protecting our public funds.
The False Claims Act, which was first enacted in response to war profiteering during the U.S. Civil War, was strengthened in 1986 precisely because of concerns about fraud among defense contractors. The False Claims Act allows individual whistleblowers to file a qui tam lawsuit against those involved in fraud against the government and to share with the government in any recovery.