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Washington Contractor Pays More Than $140,000 to Settle DBE Fraud Allegations

On June 30, 2015, Tri-State Construction, Bellevue, Washington, entered into a civil settlement agreement with the U.S. Government. Tri-State agreed to pay $142,440 to settle allegations that false claims for payment were submitted on the federally-funded I-5 High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane project in Tacoma, Washington. Tri-State does not admit any misconduct.

This investigation found that Tri-State bought and used a stormwater treatment system, known as a chitosan, on the I-5 project. However, they submitted invoices to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) representing that they were renting the treatment system from OMA Construction, a disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE). They submitted reports to the WSDOT certifying that the amounts on the rental invoices were eligible for DBE credit on the project. These claims were false since Tri-State actually owned and operated the stormwater treatment system on the project, not OMA Construction. 

We conducted this investigation with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.