Illinois Furniture Importer and Manager Agree to Pay $1,525,000 to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations Under Civil Settlement with United States
Daniel Scott Goldman and his companies, Ecologic Industries LLC and OMNI SCM LLC will collectively pay $1,525,000 under a civil settlement with the United States Department of Justice, announced United States Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr. The settlement resolves a lawsuit brought under the False Claims Act alleging that the companies made or conspired with others to make false statements to avoid paying duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from the People’s Republic of China.
Ecologic Industries sells furniture for student housing, while OMNI SCM provided procurement and supply chain services and served as importer of record for Ecologic. Goldman controlled both entities through a number of LLCs and trusts. Under the agreement, Goldman will pay a total of $850,000.00, while OMNI and Ecologic together will pay $675,000.00.
“Customs duties are meant to protect domestic companies and American workers from unfair competition from abroad. Those who import goods into the United States must comply with the law,” said U.S. Attorney Richard L. Durbin, Jr.
The government alleged that between February 2012 and December 2014, Ecologic, OMNI and Goldman knowingly misclassified or conspired with others to misclassify wooden bedroom furniture on documents presented to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to avoid paying antidumping duties on imports of wooden bedroom furniture manufactured in the People’s Republic of China. Specifically, Goldman and his companies allegedly classified the furniture as office and other types of furniture not subject to duties while selling the furniture in the student housing market for use in dormitory bedrooms. The Department of Commerce assesses, and CBP collects, antidumping duties to protect U.S. businesses by offsetting unfair foreign pricing and foreign government subsidies.
The allegations resolved by the settlement were originally brought by Matthew L. Bissanti, Jr. under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. The act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the United States those who falsely claim federal funds or, as in this case, those who avoid paying funds owed to the government or cause or conspire in such conduct. The act also allows the whistleblower to receive a share of any funds recovered through the lawsuit. Bissanti will receive $228,750.00 as his share of the settlement.
The lawsuit is captioned United States ex rel. Bissanti v. Daniel Scott Goldman, et al., No. A14-CV-00497 (W.D. Tex.). The case was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas; Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch; CBP’s Office of Field Operations, Office of Regulatory Audit and Office of Chief Counsel; and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. Assistant United States Attorney Susan Strawn handled the case for the government.