Triple Canopy was accused of billing the U.S. for security guards who could not pass required firearms proficiency tests, and hiding that basic qualification failure by creating false test score cards
Triple Canopy, Inc. (Triple Canopy), located in Reston, has agreed to pay $2.6 million to settle civil False Claims Act allegations that the company submitted false claims for payment to the Department of Defense for unqualified security guards stationed in Iraq.
“Contractors must be held accountable for their actions, especially when the safety of government personnel is at stake” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “This settlement should remind contractors of the high value we place on safeguarding our personnel abroad.”
The allegations stem from Triple Canopy’s one-year contract with the Joint Contracting Command in Iraq (JCC-I), an entity established to provide contracting support related to the government’s relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq. Under the 2009 contract, Triple Canopy was required to perform a variety of security services at Al Asad Airbase, the second largest air base in Iraq.
The government’s complaint in intervention alleges that Triple Canopy knowingly billed the United States for security guards who could not pass contractually required firearms proficiency tests. The tests were designed by the Army to ensure that the guards hired to protect U.S. and allied personnel were capable of firing their assigned weapons safely and accurately. The government further alleges that Triple Canopy concealed the guards’ inability to satisfy the firearms testing requirements by creating false test scorecards that Triple Canopy was required to maintain for government review, in an effort to induce the government to pay for the unqualified guards.
The government’s claims are based on a whistleblower suit initially filed by a former employee of Triple Canopy in 2011. The suit was filed in the federal district court for the Eastern District of Virginia under the qui tam provision of the False Claims Act, which allows private persons to file suit on behalf of the United States. Under the False Claims Act, the government has a period of time to investigate the allegations and decide whether to intervene in the action or to decline intervention and allow the whistleblower, also called the relator, to go forward alone. The government intervened in the relator’s suit in June 2012. The False Claims Act also provides the whistleblower a share of the government’s recovery. As part of the resolution, the whistleblower will receive approximately $500,000.
The resolutions obtained in this matter were the result of a coordinated effort between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Department of Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Army Criminal Investigation Command. The matter was investigated by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Sponseller and Christine Roushdy.
The civil claims settled by this False Claims Act agreement are allegations only; there has been no determination of civil liability.
Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers but not those in this case.