October 29, 2020
New York Subcontractor Charged With and Agrees To Pay $3.13 Million To Resolve Criminal and Civil Charges Relating to an Overbilling Scheme
On October 29, 2020, the U.S. Attorney's Office (USAO) for the District of Massachusetts filed an information charging VJ Associates (VJA) Inc., of Suffolk, Hicksville, New York, with conspiring to commit wire fraud by engaging in a false billing scheme. VJA of Suffolk agreed to plead guilty to the information and pay a $530,000 criminal fine. The USAO also announced a settlement agreement with VJA of Suffolk, VJA of New England, VJA of Washington, DC, and VJA of New Jersey. The four VJA entities agreed to pay $2.6 million collectively to settle civil False Claims Act allegations and be permanently excluded from participation in federally funded contracts.
According to the information, from at least January 2007 through August 2018, VJA of Suffolk, the largest and original VJA entity, conspired with other VJA entities to engage in a scheme to bill bogus and unnecessary hours to time and expense projects.
The entities created false timekeeping records overstating the number of hours that VJA of Suffolk employees actually worked, and billed projects for fees based on those false and overstated timekeeping records. Employees openly discussed improper billing as “juicing” and “tagging” hours in order to “maximize” bills on government projects.
The U.S. Department of Transportation, the State of New York, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts funded these projects. VJA had office locations in Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC, and provided sub-contracted estimating and scheduling services for construction projects funded with State and Federal money.
Note: Indictments, informations, and criminal complaints are only accusations by the Government. All defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.