United States Intervenes in Two False Claims Act Whistlebloswer Complaints Against Monaco Enterprises Inc.
Spokane –On Monday the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington filed a notice on Monday informing the U.S. Federal District Court that it had completed a multi-year investigation of fraud originally alleged by three former employees of Monaco Enterprises Inc., a Spokane based company providing fire and security alarm systems to U.S. military bases. According to the allegations of the former employees, for years Monaco Enterprises engaged in various practices designed to defraud the federal government at military bases throughout the country. The United States Attorney’s Office has given notice that, of the multiple allegations raised, it will proceed to litigation against Monaco Enterprises on allegations that it billed the military for services not actually provided, and that Monaco Enterprises concealed deceptive charging practices from the government with regards to travel costs.
On January 19, 2012, Jason Voss, Drake Osborn, and Lisa Osborn, filed a civil complaint, known as a qui tam, alleging that Monaco Enterprises had violated the False Claims Act and that the United States was entitled to triple damages and various additional civil penalties. Mr. Voss and Mr. Osborn were both former employees of Monaco Enterprises. Later that year, on June 28, 2012, a third former employee, Maximilian Salazar III, filed a separate qui tam also alleging that Monaco Enterprises had violated the False Claims Act. Taken together, the allegations of the relators implicated hundreds of task orders and contracts with military bases scattered throughout the nation, most worth in excess of $100,000 each.
Under the False Claims Act, when whistleblowers, known as relators, file qui tam complaints, the case is sealed from the public, including defendants, to allow the United States time to investigate the allegations and determine if the United States will take over the lawsuit, known as intervening, or decline to take over the lawsuit. If the United States declines, then relators have the option of carrying the lawsuit forward on their own. Qualified relators who do so and prevail are entitled to 25% to 35% of any award provided to the government, plus the defendant must pay their attorney’s fees. For allegations in which the United States intervenes, a qualified relator is entitled to 15% to 25% of any award as well as attorney’s fees from the defendant.
Here, the United States has been diligently investigating the many allegations against Monaco Enterprises since the qui tam complaints were filed. The allegations implicate hundreds of task orders and contracts between Monaco Enterprises and the military over a period spanning more than a five years. The United States has chosen to intervene in some of the allegations and decline others. The United States has been ordered to file its complaint against Monaco Enterprises by September 10, 2015.
“Allegations of fraud committed against our military are vigorously investigated in this District,” said Michael C. Ormsby, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. “With the investigation of the relators’ allegations against Monaco Enterprises complete, we now look forward to ensuring that any money wrongfully taken from the military is paid back and all appropriate civil penalties are imposed,” said Mr. Ormsby.
The allegations against Monaco Enterprises have been investigated by special agents with the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigative Service; the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command; the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, and the General Services Administration, Office of Inspector General.
The qui tam complaints are captioned as United States of America ex rel. Jason Voss and Drake Osborn and Lisa Osborn, vs. Monaco Enterprises Inc. and John Does 1-99, CV-12-046-LRS, and United States of America ex rel. Maximilian Salazar III vs. Monaco Enterprises Inc.,