A former project manager for Science Applications International was awarded $1.8 million for exposing a massive overbilling scheme according to an AP story carried in the Ventura County Star. Prosecutors claimed the company over charged the government for homeland security training programs. Science Applications is a Virginia based defense contractor that employs over 40,000 people worldwide.
The U.S. Attorneys Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico say the company overcharged for first responder training programs administered by the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. The fraud was first reported by a whistleblower. Richard Priem, a former project manager for the company, filed the suit on behalf of the government under the federal false claims act.
The false claims act was originally enacted shortly after the Civil War as a method to assist the government in pursuing vendors who defrauded the Union Army during the war. Under the law, whistleblowers who come forward with non-public information about a fraud can earn an award of up to 30% of what the government collects. In the case of Science Applications International, the government settled for $11.75 million.
Whistleblowers are the best line of defense against fraud and waste of taxpayer money. Employees and contractors are often the only ones to see fraud. Congress passed the false claims act to encourage more people to come forward.
Some folks believe that procurement fraud is a victimless crime. That is simply not true, however. When the government pays too much for something, all taxpayers suffer. More importantly, Science Applications was paid to help train first responders in case of domestic terrorism incidents or disasters. As we have seen from the the World Trade Center tragedy, the Boston Marathon bombings and Hurricane Katrina, properly trained first responders are critical. When the cost of training is overinflated, many people simply can’t attend.
If you have inside, non public information about fraud against the government or involving federally funded programs, give us a call. We represent whistleblowers and help them collect the largest award possible. More importantly, we help them put a stop to fraud.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Portland, Maine and San Francisco, California. Services available in many jurisdictions.
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Posted by Brian Mahany, Esq.