Kansas Asphalt Paving Company and Company Officials Agree to Pay $950,000 for False Claims on DOT-Funded Construction Projects
On January 15, 2008, asphalt paving company Heckert Construction Company, Inc. (HCC); the company’s President, Roger A. Heckert; and the company’s Vice–President, Charles Heckert, signed a civil settlement agreement in U.S. District Court, Kansas City, Missouri, to settle false claims made on several federally funded transportation projects in Kansas between 1996 and 2004. The company and the two Heckert brothers jointly agreed to pay a civil fine totaling $950,000 ($120,000 for attorney fees and $830,000 to the United States).
This case was initiated based on a Qui Tam complaint alleging that HCC operated portable asphalt plants and used a computer program to calibrate and record the number of tons of asphalt mixed and loaded into trucks at these plants. HCC had the program automatically “short” (reduce by one ton) the asphalt loaded. For example, instead of loading 20 tons of asphalt, 19 tons were loaded, but the company would bill the government for 20 tons.
The investigation revealed that between 1996 and 2004, HCC submitted false claims affecting $34 million in asphalt work performed on FHWA– and FAA–funded projects in Kansas. The federally funded projects included a runway project, road rebuilding, bridge reconstruction, and highway re–surfacing. OIG plans to refer HCC, the Heckerts, and two HCC plant operators to FHWA for debarment action. This investigation was conducted by DOT/OIG, with assistance from FHWA and the Kansas Department of Transportation.