January 6, 2014 —Government contractors defraud the U.S. government in myriad ways. Is there anything inside employees can do to stop an employer’s fraudulent claims against the government? In fact, the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act provide conscientious insiders with a very effective tool for tackling contractors looking to bilk the system. Tipsters are empowered to file a whistleblower lawsuit for the government in federal court. To compensate informants with the courage to step forward, the Act makes them eligible for a portion of the government’s recovery as a result of the lawsuit.
Whistleblower Lawsuits Allege TAB Construction and Defrauded HUBZone Program
The U.S. government has intervened in two False Claims Act lawsuits against TAB Construction Co. Inc. (TAB) and the company’s owner, William E. Richardson III, alleging that Richardson and his construction business made false statements to the Small Business Administration (SBA) so that TAB could qualify for Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) certification.
The HUBZone program allows businesses that keep their main office in a designated HUBZone to become certified by the SBA as HUBZone small business, so long as they meet other program requirements. The program seeks to encourage business development in economically depressed areas. The certification is valuable because government agencies sometimes limit bids for a contract to HUBZone-certified businesses.
The U.S. Department of Justice alleges that in 2000, Richardson applied for HUBZone certification, claiming that TAB’s main office was located inside a HUBZone, though in reality the main office was not in a HUBZone, no TAB employees actually worked in the HUBZone office and TAB actually was located in a non-HUBZone. In 2006, Richardson allegedly continued the deception when he sought re-certification with the HUBZone program, making the false claim that eight employees worked from the purported HUBZone main office. Again, the claims were untrue, alleges the government.
According to the DOJ, the Canton, Ohio construction company used its fraudulently obtained HUBZone certification to win four lucrative construction contracts with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The contracts, worth millions of dollars, had been reserved for HUBZone-certified companies.
Blowing the Whistle on Government Contractors That Defraud the Government
Many whistleblowers discover False Claims Act violations when they are asked to become a player in the fraudulent scheme. Or, they may simply be expected to look the other way. The qui tam lawyers with Waters & Kraus have worked with company insiders in all sorts of complicated situations. Contact us by email or call our False Claims Act lawyers at 855.784.0268. With offices in California, Texas and the Washington D.C. area, we’re here to make the whistleblower process easier on you.