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Government Enforcement Actions

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January 6, 2022

SoNo International LLC and Ark Capital Equipment LLC have agreed to pay $904,000 to resolve allegations of supplying the Department of Defense with shipping containers that were made in China or made of Chinese steel, in violation of contracts as well as the False Claims Act.  As part of the settlement, the two companies will also submit to enhanced training and reporting requirements pursuant to an administrative agreement with the Defense Logistics Agency.  An unnamed third-party company, which SoNo and Ark hired to change identifying plates on the shipping containers, has separately agreed to train employees on customs rules and regulations.  USAO EDPA

January 5, 2022

A Kansas-based contractor who illegally obtained $346 million in contracts set aside for service-disabled veterans and certified minorities has been sentenced to a little over two years in prison and ordered to forfeit over $5.5 million.  Between 2009 and 2018, defendant Matthew McPherson was awarded approximately 199 federal contracts, upon which he was paid approximately $335 million, through Zieson Construction Company, which was nominally owned by an African-American service-disabled veteran.  When the company grew too large to compete for small business contracts, McPherson used an employee’s Native American minority status to set up Simcon Corp in order to obtain additional contracts.  USAO WDMO

January 5, 2022

Two Florida men, Reinier Gonzalez Caballero and Alexeis Napoles Manresa, have each been sentenced to a little over four years in prison for laundering the ill-gotten proceeds of a $3 million healthcare fraud scheme against Medicare.  Over a couple months in 2019, durable medical equipment company Universal Ortho Supplies, Inc. billed Medicare for orthosis and prosthetics that were never prescribed by physicians, nor provided to patients.  The reimbursements were then turned over to the defendants, who attempted to disguise the source of the funds by setting up shell corporations and opening up fake bank accounts.  Two co-conspirators have already been convicted and sentenced; another two have pleaded guilty and await sentencing.  USAO SDFL

January 4, 2022

A rabbi who was shot at an attack on a San Diego synagogue in April 2019 has been sentenced to 14 months in prison and ordered to pay $2.8 million in restitution for defrauding the IRS, several Fortune 500 companies, and multiple public and private agencies.  In exchange for a 10% cut, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein provided fake donation receipts from the Chabad of Poway that helped co-conspirators claim illegal tax deductions or pocket matching donations from their employers.  He also let his brother, Mendel Goldstein, conceal income from the IRS by allowing him to deposit nearly $1 million in bank accounts belonging to the Chabad.  Lastly, with co-conspirator Alexander Avergoon, the rabbi used false information and fake records to fraudulently apply for emergency funds, grants, and loans from FEMA, the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, and private foundations.  USAO SDCA

January 3, 2022

Previous metals dealer Lear Capital, Inc., and its founder, Kevin DeMeritt, have agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit by the New York Attorney General that alleged the company fraudulently charged investors up to 33% in undisclosed commissions, in violation of state laws requiring commodity broker-dealers and telemarketers to register with the state.  As part of the settlement, Lear has agreed to begin providing clear and conspicuous disclosures of the fees, enhance its complaint tracking procedures, and provide better training to its personnel.  NY AG

January 3, 2022

Blockratize, Inc., d/b/a Polymarket has been ordered to pay a $1.4 million civil monetary penalty to resolve charges of violating the Commodity Exchange Act and CFTC regulations.  According to the CFTC, Polymarket illegally offered over 900 separate off-exchange event-based binary options contracts, and failed to obtain designation as a designated contract market (DCM), or register as a swap execution facility (SEF).  CFTC

December 23, 2021

Military housing provider Balfour Beatty Communities LLC will pay over $65 million and plead guilty to fraud charges arising from their scheme to secure incentive payments on contracts by submitting falsified information claiming to have met performance objectives when, in fact, they had not met those objectives.  BBC employees altered or manipulated data in property management software regarding property maintenance and destroyed and falsified resident comment cards.  The settlement agreement and plea agreement includes a $33.6 million criminal fine, over $31.8 million in restitution, and $35.2 million to resolve civil liability under the False Claims Act.  BBC will be on probation for three years and be subject to independent compliance monitoring.  DOJ; USAO SD GA; USAO WD OK

December 21, 2021

Information technology contractor Telophase Corporation will pay $1.4 million to resolve allegations that it overcharged NASA under a cost-plus fixed-fee contract.  The government alleged that Telophase submitted false claims for excessive labor hours and costs.  USAO Md

December 21, 2021

Financial services firm NatWest Markets Plc has pleaded guilty to charges related to its manipulation of the market for U.S. Treasury futures contracts and for the purchase and sale of U.S. Treasury securities in the secondary (cash) market.  NatWest will pay approximately $35 million in criminal fines, restitution, and forfeiture.  The government charged that NatWest traders engaged in spoofing by placing orders with the intent to cancel those orders before execution in order to artificially push up or down the prevailing market price.  DOJ; USAO CT
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