South Carolina Contractor Agrees to Repay $77,000 Involving False Claims for DBE Work
On July 7, 2015, Freeman Bell, as president and on behalf of Premier Constructors (Premier), a South Carolina based highway contractor, entered into a Civil Settlement Agreement with the United States related to allegations that Premier submitted false claims for work performed under the USDOT Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.
The investigation alleged that Premier falsely certified it had completed the DBE work on the federally-funded Stenhouse Road project in Greenville, South Carolina, knowing that the work was actually performed by a non-DBE contractor. The investigation further alleged that Premier Constructors knowingly submitted false payroll certifications for the project that included employees of the non-DBE company and used equipment and other resources from the non-DBE contractor. According to the terms of the Civil Settlement Agreement, Premier agreed to repay the U.S. Government a total of $77,335 to settle the allegations, but does not admit wrongdoing.
In May 2015, FHWA lifted the suspensions and Premier and Bell entered into a three year Administrative Settlement Agreement with the FHWA, whereby they accepted responsibility for the alleged misconduct. In the FHWA Administrative Agreement they agreed to the implementation of a Corporate Compliance Program, appointment of a Corporate Compliance Officer, and retention of an independent monitor to evaluate the company's performance of the agreement.