In The News

Trucking Company Agrees to Pay More Than $1 million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations

Once again the US Postal Service has added it considerable weight to the prosecution of companies that are alleged to have defrauded governmental agencies. Back in March of this year, the Justice Department announced that Beam Brothers Trucking Inc. (BBBT) and several of its principals have agreed to pay $1,025,000 to resolve allegations that they overcharged the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and that they violated the False Claims Act. BBBT and its principals – Gerald Beam and Garland Beam – had contracts to transport mail for the USPA. BBBT is based in Mt. Crawford, Virginia. “The Department of Justice takes seriously its role in protecting the federal procurement process from false claims,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “This settlement demonstrates that we will hold accountable federal contractors engaging in fraud, and will ensure that federal funds are protected from overcharges and abuse.”

USPS contracted with BBBT and other trucking companies to transport mail throughout the United States. On some of the contracts, USPS gave trucking contractors credits cards in order to cover their fuel costs. These cards were known as ‘Voyager Cards’. The settlement resolves allegations that BBBT misused these cards to buy fuel on contracts that did not allow for their use. This resulted in inflated charges to those cards which violated the False Claims Act. “Contractors working for the federal government are held to the same high ethical standards as full-time employees,” U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey Craig Carpenito said. “This settlement will return more than $1 million to the USPS.”

The settlement came about as a result of a lawsuit that was filed by a former BBBT employee – Bobby Blizzard – under the qui tam or whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the federal government for false claims and to share in any potential recovery. Whistleblower Medicare lawsuits have increased since the government began cracking down on fraud and abuse. Qui tam law firms are often retained by those seeking to use this provision to sue companies that are alleged to be involved in fraudulent activity. Mr. Blizzard’s share of the recovery has yet to be determined. “We are gratified to have contributed to this investigation and applaud the exceptional work by the investigative team for both protecting the contracting process and overall program costs,” said Special Agent in Charge Scott Pierce of the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General. “Along with our law enforcement partners, the USPS OIG will continue to aggressively investigate those who engage in activities designed to defraud the Postal Service.”