U.S. Department of Justice Announces it Will Intervene in False Claims Act Complaints Against Tetra Tech Ec. Inc.
The DOJ reported on October 26, 2018, that it will intervene in three federal California whistleblower cases. The Department of Justice claims that Tetra Tech EC Inc. (Tetra Tech) failed to submit correct claims to the United States Navy. The false claims were for “radiological remediation and support services.” The work was done at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco, California.
The US Navy awarded Tetra Tech federal contracts to test some of Hunters Point’s land parcels for radiation. If excessive radiation was discovered, Tetra Tech was supposed to remediate the land parcels. The claims, which were based on whistleblower disclosures, asserted that Tetra Tech submitted false claims in the following ways:
- “It misrepresented the source of the soil samples that were submitted for radiological testing.
- It falsified “data collected from radiological surveys of existing buildings at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard.”
Previously, two supervisors at Tetra Tech pled guilty to falsifying records. As part of their plea, they admitted that “rather than take soil samples from the survey units undergoing analysis, they participated in the substitution of “clean” (non-radioactive) dirt fraudulently taken from other areas within the former naval base.”
The Department of Justice filed the action not just to recoup payments that were improperly made. They filed the action because it was and is essential for the US Navy and the public to understand and remedy any dangerous radiation at the Hunters Point location. Submitting false records meant that the true conditions of the site can’t be properly determined. The intervention seeks to hold entities that contract with the U.S. Navy accountable for non-compliance with essential contracts.
The qui tam provision of the False Claims Act
The three whistleblower actions were authorized by the False Claims Act qui tam provision. The qui tam section of the act encourages anyone who is aware of government fraud to step forward and disclose that fraud. The incentive for disclosing the fraud is that whistleblowers who file valid claims will be awarded a percentage of any recovery. Experienced whistleblower attorneys advise claimants about the disclosure process, what information the government needs to help decide if it will intervene, and will work to fight for the whistleblower’s percentage of the recovery.
The U.S. Department of Justice, once the whistleblower action is filed, has the right to decide whether to intervene (begin prosecution against the wrongdoers) or to decline intervention.
Stephen Danz & Associates has been a strong advocate for whistleblowers for nearly 40 years. His firm has conveniently accessible offices throughout California. If you are aware of any fraud being committed against the federal or state government, call us at 877-789-9707 to schedule an appointment.