Friday, February 7, 2014
HONOLULU – J.M. Waller Associates, Inc. (“JMWA”), a corporation headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, will pay $229,060 to settle certain civil claims under the federal False Claims Act in an agreement signed on February 5, 2014. The United States had alleged that JMWA submitted false or fraudulent claims for payment to the United States Air Force in connection with a professional services contract which required JMWA to provide design architect-engineering services and inspection services in connection with various construction projects located on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Honolulu.
Florence T. Nakakuni, United States Attorney for the District of Hawaii, said that according to the settlement agreement, the United States alleged that during the period from October 1, 2008, through November 30, 2010, JMWA submitted false or fraudulent claims for payment that included (1) JMWA’s alleged use of inappropriate labor categories and billing rates for certain tasks; (2) JMWA’s alleged billing for inspection services on days when no construction had been performed; and (3) JMWA’s billing of time charged to a particular task order for work that allegedly was outside the scope of that task order. While JMWA agreed to the settlement, it did not admit that the allegations were correct.
USA Nakakuni noted that under the federal False Claims Act, the United States can seek up to triple damages, plus penalties, for false and fraudulent claims for payment that are submitted in connection with all government contracts: She stated: “As the Air Force and our other military services enter into thousands of contracts for goods and services in support of our military efforts both at home and abroad, we will work tirelessly with our military law enforcement partners to protect the taxpayers’ money and combat procurement fraud.”
This civil investigation was initiated after the Air Force contracting office identified billing discrepancies while processing claims submitted by JMWA. The investigation, conducted by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, included a review of thousands of pages of documents and numerous witness interviews during the course of the three-year investigation. The Defense Contract Audit Agency auditors and Air Force contracting officers shared their expertise and provided critical support to the investigation. The case was handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Rachel Moriyama.