Officials from the United States Department of Justice announced Wednesday that a Colliersville-based general contractor has admitted to civil fraud.
Jett Industries, of Colliersville, has paid the United States $500,000 to settle allegations that it violated the False Claim Act, according to a media release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian and Environmental Protection Agency Inspector General Arthur A. Elkins, Jr., said Jett Industries, which specializes in the construction and modification of water and waste water treatment facilities, has accepted responsibility for the submission of a false certification to the EPA in connection with the construction of a water pump station in the village of Briarcliff Manor.
According to the release, Jett Industries was awarded a federally-funded contract in January 2009 to construct the pump station. One component of the project was a steel bladder surge tank.
Before Jett began construction on the project, the company knew that it would be paid with money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the release said. To receive this money, any steel used for the project was required to be made in the United States as part of the act’s “Buy American” provision.
However, several Jett employees learned that the tank the company ordered was made in France, yet the company accepted delivery of the tank and installed it anyway, according to the release.
A Jett employee then allegedly used a company computer to create a false certificate, appearing to be from the tank’s manufacturer, which falsely stated that the tank had been manufactured in the United States, the release said.
Later that day, the same Jett employee sent the false certificate to a consultant for the village of Briarcliff Manor, falsely reporting that the project and tank were compliant with the Recovery Act in order to obtain payment.
The subsequent settlement was the result of a joint investigation between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York and the EPA’s Office of Inspector General, with assistance from Briarcliff Manor officials, the release said. The United States was represented by Assistant United States Attorney Adam J. Katz.
“Companies that do business with the government must do so honestly, or suffer the consequences,” said Hartunian. “The Recovery Act was designed to stimulate our nation’s economy in the wake of an economic crisis … we will continue to pursue vigilantly those who misuse funds designated for that purpose. With today’s settlement, Jett has accepted responsibility for its misconduct and has agreed to fix a problem it alone created.”
As part of the settlement, Jett admitted that one of its former employees created the false certification and caused a third party to present that certificate to the EPA to cover up the violation of the “Buy American” provision.
On top of acknowledging their wrongdoing and accepting full responsibility, Jett also agreed to work with the Village of Briarcliff Manor to bring the project into compliance with the Recovery Act.
According to Jett Industries’ website, the company has completed more than 150 public projects over the past 19 years. It was founded in 1985 and has more than 100 employees.
Neither President of Jett Industries Matt Centofante, or vice president, Daniel Shults, could be reached for comment by 7 p.m. on Wednesday.
EPA Inspector General Elkins said in the release that the settlement is the result of a careful investigation and an excellent relationship between the EPA Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York.
“The American people trust that the laws of their land will be followed or, when they are not, violations will be rectified,” Elkins said. “I am most appreciative of the support from (the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York) and look forward to working together in the future to ensure that public funds are used as intended.”