Bennett Environmental Inc., a Canada-based company that treats and disposes of contaminated soils, recently pled guilty to participating in a conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency at a New Jersey Superfund site. The company entered into a plea agreement in U.S. District Court in New Jersey. The agreement involves the EPA-designated Superfund site, Federal Creosote, which is located in Manville, New Jersey. The Department of Justice charged Bennett Environmental with conspiring to commit fraud which carries a maximum fine of $500,000. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine. An order of restitution is also mandatory.
Bennett Environmental has agreed to pay a $1 million criminal fine. In addition, the Department of Justice will recommend that Bennett Environmental and its co-conspirators pay a total of $1.66 million in restitution. The cleanup at the Federal Creosote site is partially funded by the EPA. Under an interagency agreement between the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers, prime contractors oversaw the removal, treatment and disposal of contaminated soil at the Federal Creosote site.
Bennett Environmental has admitted to inflating the prices it charged to a prime contractor of the EPA and paying kickbacks to employees of the contractor over a period of two years. According to the charge, Bennett Environmental, through its agents and co-conspirators, frustrated the competitive bid process and defrauded the EPA at the Federal Creosote site. Bennett Environmental, having access to confidential bid information, inflated invoices to cover nearly $1.3 million in kickbacks to employees of the prime contractor in exchange for their assistance in steering sub-contracts to Bennett.
These charges are said to be a result of the National Procurement Fraud Initiative, announced in October 2006, which is designed to promote the early detection, prosecution, and prevention of procurement fraud associated with the increase in contracting activity for national security and other government programs. They also reflect the Department’s commitment to protecting U.S. taxpayers from procurement fraud through its creation of the National Procurement Fraud Task Force. Hopefully, corporations like Bennett will be banned from all federal government programs.
Source: PR Newswire
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