company and its president agree to $5 Million settlement over billing for linguists sent into war zones
PHILADELPHIA - Worldwide Language Resources, Inc., and its president, Lawrence P. Costa, have agreed to pay $5 million to resolve civil liabilities under the False Claims Act for allegedly providing untested linguists to the United States Department of Defense operating in overseas combat zones and for other military venues. This settlement, announced by U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger, also resolves allegations that Worldwide which, at the time, was operating in Maine, billed the government for linguist services that were not provided.
The untested linguists were provided under two contracts. A 1999 Contract was a “requirements” contract that obligated the government to fill all of its requirements for linguist services exclusively from Worldwide; the government could not acquire such services from any other entity or person. The 2003 Contract with Worldwide provided for a lower price than that previously provided under the GSA Contract for certain services, and was designed to reduce the costs to the government of acquiring those services. Both the 1999 and 2003 Worldwide contracts included qualification requirements for the proficiency of the linguists supplied by Worldwide pursuant to the delivery orders, including requirements that each linguist take certain proficiency tests and achieve certain test scores in order to be acceptable to work under the contracts.
The government alleges that Worldwide knowingly supplied untested linguists under the
1999 Contract and the 2003 Contract until March 2004, despite its knowledge that both contracts included specific testing requirements. The government alleges that: Worldwide failed to test its linguists; failed to notify any government employee that it was not testing its linguists; continued to supply untested linguists to the government to serve in overseas combat areas and other military venues; and continued to invoice the government for the services of these untested linguists and certify its compliance with the contractual testing requirements. Worldwide did not know if its untested linguists were adequate to the assigned tasks.
Without the testing, the government was asked to pay for linguists who were untested in the subject language and/or English who may have had inadequate or no proficiency, potentially obligating the government to pay for a useless “service,” or services which were insufficient to meet the needs of military personnel.
In addition, the government alleges that Worldwide: billed the government for linguist
services that were not provided at all; claimed payment for linguists’ services for more than the number of days in the billing period; invoiced the government for services of a linguist who was incapacitated and unable to provide services; invoiced additional man-days that were not worked by any linguists; and invoiced for the services of one linguist twice under two separate delivery orders for work performed only once.
The United States’ investigation included whistleblower allegations brought by former Worldwide employees Brian Remmey and Khalil Nouri, who filed lawsuits on behalf of the United States under the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act. Remmey and Nouri will share $925,000 from the settlement amount.
Assistant United States Attorneys Susan Dein Bricklin and Viveca D. Parker handled the civil investigation and settlement negotiations. Auditor Dawn Wiggins of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania contributed significantly to both the investigation and negotiation of the government’s claims. The Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Contract Audit Agency, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service also participated in the investigation.
UNITED STATES ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, EASTERN DISTRICTof PENNSYLVANIA
Suite 1250, 615 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
PATTY HARTMAN, Media Contact, 215-861-8525