Recently I addressed a group of accountants at a conference in San Diego. While there, I picked up the local newspaper, the U-T San Diego. San Diego is a big navy town so its no surprise that a story about a U.S. Navy engineer sentenced to prison for fraud was big news.
A federal judge in Providence, Rhode Island sentenced former engineer Ralph Mariano to 10 years in prison. He also must repay the navy $18,000,000 in restitution. Until he was fired, Mariano was the navy’s chief engineer at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, Rhode Island. Although he earned well over $100,000 per year, that wasn’t enough. Mariano took things to the next level by demanding kickbacks from contractors.
Prosecutors say the scheme cost the navy $18 million with Mariano receiving $5 million. His girlfriend, brother, sister and even his 82-year-old father received millions more. According to prosecutors, Mariano spent $100,000 on just high-end cigars.
“The next guy that comes along, who has a job that you had, high-paying job, lots of prestige, but wants to game the system, that person needs to think twice,” said U.S. District Court Judge Mary Lisi.
Mariano’s 10-year prison term should certainly make other would be fraudsters think twice.
America’s best defense against employee and government contractor fraud is the whistleblower; concerned workers who are willing to stand up to fraud and waste. Under the federal False Claims Act, whistleblowers that report fraud can earn up to 30% of whatever the government collects from those guilty of the fraud.
Collecting from Mariano may be difficult but fraud committed by corporations and government contractors frequently results in huge payments to whistleblowers.
To qualify as a whistleblower, one needs original source information about fraud involving federal funds or a government program. False claims act cases are started when the whistleblower files a lawsuit under seal in federal court. While the case remains sealed, the government is permitted an opportunity to investigate and prosecute the case if warranted.
If you believe you qualify as a whistleblower and wish to receive an award, give us a call. Our team of whistleblower lawyers helps people qualify for the maximum award allowed by law. We are proud to represent the whistleblower in the largest pending false claims act case in the nation; HUD’s $2.4 billion claim against Allied Home Mortgage.
Want more information? Contact attorney Brian Mahany at or by telephone at (414) 704-6731. We also have dozens of text searchable articles on our Due Diligence blog.
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