This week’s Department of Justice “Catch of the Week” goes to L-3 Communications Corporation and its affiliated entities Vertex Aerospace LLC and L-3 Communications Integrated Systems LP. On Monday, the government defense contractor agreed to pay $4.63 million to resolve allegations it inflated labor hours for time spent by independent contractors at the military’s Continental US Replacement Centers (CRC) in Fort Benning, Georgia, and Fort Bliss, Texas. The CRCs prepare individuals for deployment to overseas posts to support US military operations by providing orientation briefings, training, health screenings, payroll processing and addressing other administrative matters. See DOJ Press Release.
L-3 performed rotary aviation maintenance and support services for the US Army in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and Kuwait under contracts with the US Air Force. According to the government, from 2006 through November 2011, L-3 knowingly overcharged the government for time their independent contractors spent at the CRCs by billing for each individual not based on the actual time that individual spent at the CRC, but based instead on the earliest arrival or latest departure time of any other individual who also processed through the center that same day.
In announcing the settlement, the government stressed the importance for contractors to deal openly and honestly with the government. Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said the government “is committed to vigorously pursuing all those who knowingly submit false claims under government contracts” and that contractors “must be scrupulous in their billing, and invoice only for work and amounts permitted by their contracts.” And US Attorney John Horn of the Northern District of Georgia cautioned that the settlement “demonstrates our commitment to hold contractors accountable for false billing and restore wrongfully taken funds to the military.”
The allegations first arose in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by former L-3 independent contractor Robert A. Martin under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. Mr. Martin will receive a whistleblower award of $798,675.
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