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Rhode Island Companies Agree to Pay $135,000 to Settle Fraud Allegations

On January 27, 2016, Central Landscape Construction, Inc. and Central Nurseries, Inc., entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Rhode Island and the State of Rhode Island, and agreed to pay $135,542 to settle allegations of fraudulent unemployment claims. Central Landscape and Central Nurseries were awarded approximately $7 million in Federal and State funded contracts from 2007 through 2011. 

The United States contends that it has certain claims under the False Claims Act deriving from Central Landscape and Central Nurseries’ pursuit of unemployment compensation on behalf of its employees to which the employees were not entitled. Specifically, the United States contends that from approximately January 2008 through April 2011, Central Landscape and Central Nurseries assisted their employees in making false or fraudulent claims for unemployment insurance benefits to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training, affirming that they had been laid off and did not expect to call them back to work until the spring. At the time, Central Landscape and Central Nurseries knew that they would call their employees back to work before spring and in fact did so on numerous occasions.

As a result of Central Landscape and Central Nurseries’ false statements, their employees were paid $135,542 to which they were not lawfully entitled. The agreement does not constitute an admission by Central Landscape and Central Nurseries, or a concession by the United States that their claims are not well founded. 

DOT-OIG is conducting this investigation jointly with the U.S. Department of Labor-OIG and the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development-OIG.