A federal grand jury indicted a Luthersville man this week on charges of getting $2.85 million in government contracts by fraudulently claiming his business was controlled by a veteran.
Arthur Wayne Singleton, a 62-year old construction contractor, defrauded programs that set aside certain government contracts for businesses owned and controlled by disabled veterans, according to a federal indictment.
“This defendant allegedly took advantage of a service-disabled veteran of the Vietnam War, using the veteran’s name and disabled status to gain millions of dollars in federal contracts,” U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said. “Fraud like this deprives legitimate disabled veteran-owned small businesses of the opportunity to enter into construction contracts with the government.”
Attempts to reach Singleton or his lawyer Brian Steel for comment were unsuccessful.
The contract program is an important resource for disabled vets because they are often discriminated against in employment and business opportunities, said David Autry, spokesman for the Disabled American Veterans in Washington DC.
“For whatever reason,” he said, “people prefer not to do business with them.”
Singleton approached a bed-ridden Vietnam vet, identified in the indictment only as “GT”, in 2007 and proposed they form a joint venture called GMT Mechanical that could take advantage of set-aside construction contracts from the federal government, according to the indictment. GT suffers from severe knee injuries and other health issues as a result of his service. Singleton, who had more than 30 years of construction and federal contract experience, completely controlled the enterprise, the indictment said, and federal rules required the disabled veteran to control the business and own 51 percent.
Singleton secured contracts from the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for construction projects around the country. According to the indictment, Singleton paid GT $17,964 because he said he had “to make it look as though GT was part of the business.”
The U.S. Attorney’s office has not indicted GT but declined to say whether he was a cooperating witness.
The payment to GT followed an inquiry by the VA, which sent a letter in February 2008 stating GMT Mechanical wasn’t eligible for “service-disabled veteran-owned contracts” because GT didn’t control the business or own 51 percent of it. But Singleton went ahead and submitted bids for a $290,000 contract in Iowa with the Agriculture Department, a $96,000 contract in Wyoming with the Homeland Security Department and a $1.375 million contract in North Dakota with the Defense Department and forged GT’s signature on the bids, according to the indictment.
— by Steve Visser, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 5:41 p.m. Thursday, November 10, 2011. Find this article at: http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/man-accused-of-defrauding-1222311.html