Williams Brothers Construction Inc. (WBCI) has agreed to pay $1 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by misrepresenting its use of a small disadvantaged business to obtain a federally-funded construction contract, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced.
“The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program of the Department of Transportation creates important opportunities for small businesses to participate in construction projects paid for with federal funds,” said Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt of the Department of Justice’s Civil Division. “We will hold accountable those who misrepresent their compliance with program requirements to obtain taxpayer funds to which they are not entitled, and thereby undermine the program’s goal of supporting small businesses.”
The settlement resolves claims arising from WBCI’s construction of a new terminal building at the Peoria International Airport using Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant funds, and is based on the following factors:
- The FAA grant required the use of disadvantaged business enterprises for part of the construction.
- DOJ contends that WBCI knowingly made false representations regarding its plans to use a disadvantaged small firm on the project and then falsified documents to make it appear that an eligible business did window, glazing, and curtain wall work.
- Instead, WBCI allegedly used that business only as a pass-through and had the work done by an ineligible company.
The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the Civil Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois, and U.S. DOT’s Office of Inspector General.
Readers are reminded that the claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.