Military Housing Contractor Pays $500,000 To Resolve False Claims Act Violation
On January 6th, 2022, the United States Department of Justice (DOL) announced that Hunt Companies, Inc., a real estate investment firm with a main headquarters in El Paso, Texas, has agreed to pay $500,000 to settle a False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit. The legal action was initiated by a former employee of Hunt who blew the whistle and filed a qui tam lawsuit against the company. In this article, our Florida defense fraud attorneys discuss the FCA settlement reached by the DOJ and the real estate company.
Allegations: Hunt Submitted False Information to Receive Higher Payment from Government
As part of its business, Hunt Companies, Inc. provides private military housing to support the United States Armed Forces. Specifically, the contract at issue in this case involves private housing near the Dover Air Force base in Delaware. As part of the contract, Hunt Companies was entitled to receive additional bonus payment from the government if it satisfied certain performance standards. Among other things, conditions of the bonus payment included:
- Properly maintained all private residences; and
- Quickly turning around residences to ensure they can be occupied by new tenants.
According to the settlement announced by the Department of Justice, Hunt Companies submitted false information to the government in order to obtain unjustified and undeserved bonus payments. The alleged false claims were submitted between 2013 and 2019. Without admitting or denying wrongdoing, Hunt Companies agreed to pay $500,000 to the federal government to resolve the matter.
A Whistleblower Brought the Matter to Attention Through a Qui Tam Lawsuit
The False Claims Act (FCA) is a federal law that provides the government with significant power to take action against contractors and other parties that defraud federal programs. The government can initiate an FCA action on its own. It could file a lawsuit and seek damages directly from a defense industry contractor, health care company, or other party that submitted false claims. That being said, in practice, the majority of False Claims Act cases are initiated by whistleblowers.
Indeed, it is often a whistleblower with some form of inside information who comes forward to stop fraud or other improper billing of government programs. In this case, a former employee of Hunt filed a lawsuit on behalf of the government. Through a successful qui tam claim, a whistleblower is entitled to a portion of the funds recovered by the government. The former employee of Hunt Companies will receive an unspecified share of the $500,000 recovered by the government.
Schedule a Confidential Consultation With a Whistleblower Lawyer in Florida
At Guttman, Freidin & Celler, our Florida whistleblower rights attorneys have the skills and experience to handle the full range of defense contractor fraud cases. If you are considering filing a claim regarding improper military contractor billing practices, we can help. Call us now or send us a message to arrange your no cost, strictly confidential consultation. Our False Claims Act lawyers represent whistleblowers in Florida and nationwide.