Articles Posted in #Militarycontractfraud

Southern District of New York

New York-area painting contractor AHERN PAINTING CONTRACTORS CO. (“AHERN”) will pay $3 million to settle allegations in a False Claims Act lawsuit that AHERN fraudulently obtained payments on two federally funded construction projects by misrepresenting compliance with Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) rules, which require participation of businesses owned by women and minorities.  The Government asserted that  AHERN misrepresented that co-defendant TOWER MAINTENANCE CORP. (“TOWER”), a certified DBE, was solely performing millions of dollars of work on the two projects when in fact much of that work was performed by co-defendant SPECTRUM PAINTING CORP. (“SPECTRUM”), a non-DBE.  As part of the settlement approved by U.S. District Judge Deborah A. Batts, AHERN admits and accepts responsibility for conduct alleged in the Government’s complaint and agrees to pay $3 million to the United States.  The case against defendants TOWER and SPECTRUM is ongoing.

As alleged in the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court on March 2, 2019, AHERN was a contractor on two federally funded steel painting projects to renovate the Brooklyn Bridge and Queens Plaza.  Contracts for both projects required AHERN to hire DBEs to do a percentage of the work involved and adhere to the DBE regulations.  Instead of hiring qualified DBEs to perform the allotted DBE work, AHERN allowed SPECTRUM and TOWER to use TOWER’s status as a DBE to take credit for millions of dollars of work performed, managed, and supervised by non-DBE SPECTRUM.  To conceal this scheme, SPECTRUM employees repeatedly identified themselves as TOWER employees in documents that AHERN passed along to supervisors on the project.  AHERN and TOWER repeatedly submitted false statements and records to NYC-DOT and MTA misrepresenting that TOWER alone did all of the work allocated to DBEs and that TOWER did not hire a subcontractor to perform any of that work.

 International SOS Assistance, Inc., International SOS Government Services, Inc., International SOS, LP, Air Rescue Americas, Inc. Arnaud Vaissié; and Pascal Rey-Herme (collectively, “International SOS”), will pay $940,000 settling allegations that it overcharged TRICARE, the health care insurance system for members of the military services and their families. The overcharges related to aeromedical evacuation services by concealing discounts it received from third-party air ambulance providers in violation of the False Claims Act.

International SOS, is a provider of overseas healthcare services for the government and it had negotiated discounts from third-party air ambulance providers, which it was required to pass along to TRICARE. Instead, International SOS did not disclose the actual cost of the aeromedical evacuation services during the quoting process; billed TRICARE at the higher non-discounted amount; and received payment from TRICARE for the inflated costs, which International SOS contends it retained as a fee.

This settlement resolves allegations in a lawsuit by a former International SOS Regional Flight Desk Manager, under the qui tam (or whistleblower) provisions of the False Claims Act. The qui tam provisions permit private parties to sue for false claims on behalf of the government and to receive a share of any recovery. The relator here will receive $165,000 as his share of the recovery in the case. The relator was represented by Franklin J. Rooks, Jr., Esq. of Morgan Rooks, P.C., and Jared A. Jacobson, Esq. of Jared Jacobson Law, LLC.