The men and women who serve our nation in the military have long been respected for the sacrifices they make not only on the battlefield, but also to their families and own livelihoods. The average American soldier makes well below the average American civilian, and yet engages in a daily risk of their life to defend the freedom and liberty that American civilians enjoy. One would expect that at least American soldiers are well-equipped and well-armed to protect themselves while protecting our own country. Sadly, this is all too often not the case due to greedy and selfish defense contractors and sub-contractors who seek to make an extra buck off of the taxpayer and risking the lives of American soldiers.
Defense contractors can defraud the federal government in multiple ways. Kaman Precisions Products, a Florida-based defense contractor, paid $4.75 million to resolve allegations of selling non-conforming fuses for the Army’s bunkerbuster bombs. The government’s complaint alleged that Kaman substituted motors and parts that did not conform to the contract’s specifications. These non-conforming parts could cause misfires and potentially would harm servicemembers.
Defense Contractor DRS Technical Services of Virginia agreed to pay $13.7 million to settle allegations of overbilling the government earlier this year. DRS is accused of billing for work hours performed by DRS employees who lacked the required qualifications. The work DRS was performing involved supplies, services, and materials to assist the Army’s operations in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. This highly important work for our nation’s military did not faze DRS from charging the government for work performed by its unqualified employees.
There are a variety of ways that defense contractors can defraud the federal government. Common schemes defense contractors utilize include inflating costs and charges in cost-plus contracts, or lying about costs to the government in violation of the Truth-In-Negotiations-Act. Contractors have been caught utilizing worthless or substandard products and services and in improperly allocating costs to the federal government. Additionally, the improper substitution of a product and cross-charging occur.
When defense contractors defraud the federal government, they not only are obtaining money not due to them, they are fleecing the American taxpayer and putting American soldiers in danger. However, American citizens can combat this fraud thanks to the False Claims Act (FCA). The submission of shoddy and sub-par materials for payment by the government is a violation of the FCA. In fact, any false claim for payment submitted by contractors to the government is a violation of the FCA. Citizens are empowered by the FCA to file a suit on behalf of the government when they have knowledge of the fraud being conducted by companies seeking taxpayer dollars through fraudulent means.
The FCA’s strength is that it rewards whistleblowers who step forward and relate the information they have to the government. Whistleblowers, known as relators, can receive between 15-30 percent of what the government recovers overall. Additionally, the FCA protects whistleblowers from harassment and retaliation by their employers for stepping forward and revealing the fraud.
Lawyers at Beasley Allen continue to vigorously investigate fraud committed by defense contractors and encourage anyone who knows of fraudulent activities to step forward. Potential whistleblowers have the right to not be retaliated against for doing the right thing and reporting the fraud they have witnessed. Anyone considering doing the right thing and blowing the whistle are strongly urged to seek legal advice before doing so.
Lawyers at Beasley Allen are very familiar with the federal False Claims Act and its state counterparts and can guide whistleblowers along the process. If you have any information and would like to speak with a lawyer, contact either Lance Gould, Archie Grubb, Larry Golston, or Andrew Brashier lawyers in our firm’s Consumer Fraud Section at Lance.Gould@beasleyallen.com, Archie.Grubb@beasleyallen.com, Larry.Golston@beasleyallen.com or Andrew.Brashier@beasleyallen.com at 800-898-2034 or 334-269-2343. You may also contact one of these lawyers if you simply need more information on this subject.
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