News and Press Releases

Westmoreland County Woman Pleads Guilty To Presenting False Claims To U.S.

January 20, 2011

PITTSBURGH, Pa. ‑ A resident of Luxor, Pa., pleaded guilty in federal court to a charge of presenting false claims against the United States, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced today.

Barbara Ruffner, 39, pleaded guilty to two counts before United States District Judge Maurice B. Cohill.

In connection with the guilty plea, the court was advised that Ruffner bid and received a contract to transport mail that required her to pay her drivers a certain wage and fringe benefit rate as set by the United States Department of Labor. Ruffner filed claims with the United States Postal Service that she was entitled to receive an increase in her contract rates to pay her employees additional money because the United States Department of Labor had increased the wage rate applicable to her employees. Ruffner, however, never paid her employees the wage and fringe benefits rates as required under the contract and did not do so after applying for increased funding. The loss to her employees was approximately $70,000.

Judge Cohill scheduled sentencing for May 12, 2011, at 11:00 a.m.  The law provides for a total sentence of 10 years in prison, a fine of $500,000, or both.  Under the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, the actual sentence imposed is based upon the seriousness of the offense and the criminal history, if any, of the defendant.

Assistant United States Attorney Paul E. Hull is prosecuting this case on behalf of the government.

The United States Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General, the United States Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division, and the United States Postal Service, Office of Inspector General conducted the investigation that led to the prosecution of Barbara Ruffner.

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