The focus on SDVOSB fraud in government contracting has significantly increased over the last five years. Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned small businesses find themselves facing criminal conspiracy charges while also submitting false claims in an effort to defraud the government and ultimately obtain SDVOSB set-aside contracts with the VA or other government contracting agencies.
Management and Control of SDVSOB Companies
One of the major approaches to fighting SDVOSB fraud cases is when the government looks to see who actually manages and controls the entity. Small business regulation from on business relationships where a person or other entity has the ability to control the targeted company. The disabled member has to show that it controls the business, makes the relevant daily decisions and totally controls the business.
Failure to demonstrate being in control will more than likely lead to guilty verdicts and unnecessary jail time. Defeating the government’s allegations simply means understanding both the underlying rules for SDVOSB set asides and how companies working together on government contracts must engage. Some obvious problems that help the government to indict CEOs include:
- No evidence that CEO’s did not manage the company’s long-term decision
- Not making the day-to-day decisions or overseeing the company daily operations
- Find that SDVOSB company owners still work for the federal government or DOD agencies
These all-important considerations when assessing a federal small business fraud case.
Ability to Control is Still a Dangerous Weapon
Even if there is no evidence of actual control of your SDVOSB company, fraud cases can still succeed when federal law enforcement agencies find that another company or person (or both) has the ability to control the business. Unfortunately, these detailed rules surface when companies are being indicted in small business fraud cases. See also information about How to Minimize Criminal Liability in Government Contract Fraud and Procurement Investigations.
SVSOB Fraud and Conspiracy
There are cases where individuals are indicted because the underlying argument by the government is that the conspirators knew what they were doing was wrong and they took the steps to conceal it. The basic rule for any small business to avoid fraud is to understand the rules up front. For example, a common factor in many SDVOSB government contract fraud cases includes alleged violations of the limitations on subcontracting rules. Knowing how much work you can pass on to subcontractors is something companies cannot afford to gamble with. Federal investigations tend to focus on this aspect of the law because the government can then build upon charges of fraud. See information on avoiding fraud.
Furthermore, the ultimate goal was to submit false information and violate the rules in order to secure government contracts.
Government contract fraud is alive and well. In addition to conspiracy and SDVOSB fraud cases, prosecutors also look for false statements made to the government and also the possibility of wire fraud since the defendants have allegedly used fax machines and telephones to gain award of federal contracts.
Fraudulent Pass-Through Contracts
Any addition to the traditional False Claims indictments in SDVOSB fraud cases, the main problem found is that the SDVOSB has engaged in pass-through contracting with other ineligible companies. Developing improper teaming relationships and ignoring joint venture regulations often lead to criminal charges and ultimate liability. Small business fraud schemes by veterans and companies with service-disabled veteran status are commonplace in today’s federal procurement age.
When federal prosecutors attack improper subcontracting relationships, the results can be catastrophic. For example, in 2017 a government contractor Academy Medical, LLC (Academy), and its owners, were charged with criminal liability but ultimately settled for the matter and paying heavy fines. The settlement in the case resulted due to allegations that Academy had exploited the SDVOSB certification of a service-disabled veteran to profit from the Veteran Affairs (VA) government contracting opportunities.
Academy had prepared a contractor teaming agreement. The case resulted in allegations of the companies having as a “pass-through” for Academy. Rather than heed warnings, Academy structured its dealings with the veteran company so as to relegate the veteran to the role of a pass-through. Small businesses can avoid this type of criminal liability by developing a deeper understanding of the rules. See the entire case here.
Potential Problems for Defendants
Many government contracts and small business frau defendants find themselves at a great disadvantage because the criminal defense lawyer hired may not be well-versed in the substantive laws that govern small business programs such as service-disabled veteran own business programs. As a result, the federal prosecutors have an advantage because they have the resources to count on other agencies such as the VA or SBA to ‘fill in the gaps.” See information about CVE SDVOSB Protests.
Having the right professionals on your team that can contribute to defending against SBA and SDVOSB fraud can put a potential defendant is a stronger position
For immediate help and consultation in a pending small business SDVOSB fraud in government contracting case, call our government small business lawyers at 1-866-601-5518 Toll-Free.