Civil Settlement Reached with Construction Company Falsely Claiming to be Owned by a Service Disabled Veteran
NEWARK, N.J. – Veteran Construction Associates LLC (Veteran Construction), a construction company headquartered in Burlington, New Jersey, will pay $1.3 million to resolve allegations that it improperly billed the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on government contracts, U.S. Attorney Paul J. Fishman announced today.
Veteran Construction was formed in 2006 and listed a service-disabled veteran as its 51 percent owner. From 2008 through 2011 the company bid on and received government construction contracts that were reserved for companies that were certified as owned and operated by service disabled veterans. Veteran Construction successfully completed and invoiced the United States 68 times on those contracts for a total of $6.5 million.
The government, through the Small Business Administration and the Department of Veterans Affairs, encourages businesses that are majority owned and operated by service disabled veterans through a federal government procurement program that sets acquisitions aside for exclusive competition among service disabled veteran owned small businesses.
The settlement resolves allegations that Veteran Construction was not owned and controlled by a service disabled veteran, and thus should neither have received the government contracts, nor invoiced the government for work performed on those contracts. Veteran Construction admitted that it is liable to the United States for its conduct under the False Claims Act.
In addition to the $1.3 million payment by Veteran Construction, the company has agreed that it shall never seek to obtain any government contracts set aside for veterans of the United States military and will not seek any government contracts at all for three years from the settlement. The company agreed that none of its current or former members will maintain more than a 10 percent ownership interest in any company seeking to obtain government contracts set aside for veterans of the United States military for three years.
U.S. Attorney Fishman credited Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey G. Hughes of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of the Inspector General, Criminal Investigation Division, and Special Agent in Charge Aaron Collins of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Inspector General, Eastern Region, with the investigation leading to the settlement.
The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark C. Orlowski of the U.S. Attorney’s Civil Division in Newark and Assistant U.S. Attorney J. Andrew Ruymann of the U.S. Attorney=s Civil Division in Trenton.
Defense Counsel: Michael A. Schwartz Esq., Philadelphia