United States Sues Virginia-based Contractor Triple Canopy for False Claims Under Contract for Security in Iraq
Allegedly Billed US for Security Guards Who Did Not Meet Contract Requirements
Contractor Faked Guard Weapon Tests In Iraq, US Says
Department of Justice October 31, 2012
The United States has filed a complaint against a Virginia-based contractor alleging that the company submitted false claims for unqualified security guards under a contract to provide security in Iraq, the Justice Department announced today. The company, Triple Canopy Inc. is headquartered in Reston, Va.
In June 2009, the Joint Contracting Command in Iraq/Afghanistan (JCC-I/A) awarded Triple Canopy a one-year, $10 million contract to perform a variety of security services at Al Asad Airbase – the second largest air base in Iraq. The multi-national JCC-I/A was established by U.S. Central Command in November 2004, to provide contracting support related to the government’s relief and reconstruction efforts in Iraq.
The government’s complaint alleges that Triple Canopy knowingly billed the United States for hundreds of foreign nationals it hired as security guards who could not meet firearms proficiency tests established by the Army and required under the contract. The tests ensure that security guards hired to protect U.S. and allied personnel are capable of firing their AK-47 assault rifles and other weapons safely and accurately. The government also alleges that Triple Canopy’s managers in Iraq falsified test scorecards as a cover up to induce the government to pay for the unqualified guards, and that Triple Canopy continued to bill the government even after high-level officials at the company’s headquarters had been alerted to the misconduct. The complaint further alleges that Triple Canopy used the false qualification records in an attempt to persuade the JCC-I/A to award the company a second year of security work at the Al Asad Airbase.
“For a government contractor to knowingly provide deficient security services, as is alleged in this case, is unthinkable, especially in war time,” said Stuart F. Delery, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “The department will do everything it can to ensure that contractors comply with critical contract requirements and that contractors who don’t comply aren’t permitted to profit at the expense of our men and women in uniform and the taxpayers at home who support them.”
“We will not tolerate government contractors anywhere in the world who seek to defraud the United States through deliberate or reckless conduct that violates contractual requirements and risks the security of government personnel,” said Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
The government’s claims are based on a whistleblower suit initially filed by a former employee of Triple Canopy in 2011. The suit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provision of the False Claims Act, which allows private persons to file suit on behalf of the United States. Under the act, the government has a period of time to investigate the allegations and decide whether to intervene in the action or to decline intervention and allow the whistleblower to go forward alone.
This matter was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; the Commercial Litigation Branch of the Justice Department’s Civil Division; and the Army Criminal Investigative Command (CID) and Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) of the Department of Defense.
The claims asserted against Triple Canopy are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability. The government is not aware of any injuries that occurred as a result of the alleged misconduct.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria, and is captioned United States ex rel. Badr v. Triple Canopy, Inc.
James Wasserstrom, an American diplomat, was fired and then detained by UN police after raising suspicions of corruption
The Guardian June 27, 2012
A landmark case brought by a former United Nations employee against the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has cast light on what activists describe as a pervasive culture of impunity in an organisation where whistleblowers are given minimal protection from reprisals.
James Wasserstrom, a veteran American diplomat, was sacked and then detained by UN police, who ransacked his flat, searched his car and put his picture on a wanted poster after he raised suspicions in 2007 about corruption in the senior ranks of the UN mission in Kosovo (Unmik).
The UN’s dispute tribunal has ruled that the organisation’s ethics office failed to protect Wasserstrom against such reprisals from his bosses, and that the UN’s mechanisms for dealing with whistleblowers were “fundamentally flawed”, to the extent the organisation had failed to protect the basic rights of its own employees.
The case was directed against Ban as being directly responsible for the actions of the ethics office.
Of the 297 cases where whistleblowers complained of retaliation for trying to expose wrongdoing inside the UN, the ethics office fully sided with the complainant just once in six years, according to the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a watchdog organisation in Washington.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Secretly monitored the private emails of staff scientists and doctors who complained to Congress that the agency was approving dangerous medical devices for public use, according to a federal lawsuit filed by the staff members.
Infosecurity January 31, 2012
The current and former employees, who work for an FDA office that approves medical devices, told Congress that the agency was approving medical devices that in fact posed risks to patients.
In response, the FDA began surveillance of the employees’ personal email accounts, which they accessed from government computers, to monitor their communication with congressional staffers, according to a lawsuit filed by the employees. They allege that the information gained from the monitoring was used to harass and, in some cases, dismiss them.
In the lawsuit, the employees allege that FDA managers violated the Constitution by taking their private emails “without due process or just compensation”, conducting unlawful searches and seizures, as well as violating their rights to free speech and association.
The Washington Post has published a large dossier of letters, emails, and memos obtained by the FDA during their surveillance of the employees.
In one of those rare, “perfect storm” of coincidences, three events converge to provide the topic for this column. First, the latest issue of the in-house magazine, the arriviste named “Journal of International Peace Operations,” published by ISOA, a PMSC trade group, is devoted to the topic of “Women & International Security.”
Since ISOA, like any good trade group, generally tries to dismiss any criticism of its member companies, as being the ravings of liberal hacks in pursuit of a “spicy merc” story, it is interesting to note that the very first article in the issue states:
Companies need to adopt institutional measures to prevent and address cases of misconduct. Appropriate gender training for PMSC personnel, alongside training in international humanitarian law and human rights law – as recommended by the Montreux Document on PMSCs -will help to create a more gender-aware institution, thus preventing human rights abuses and reputation loss. Having clear rules of behaviour and mechanisms to punish individuals responsible for human rights violations will benefit the host populations, individual companies and the industry as a whole.
Second, the recent release in the UK of last year’s movie, The Whistleblower, a fictionalized version of the involvement of DynCorp contractors in sex trafficking and slavery in Bosnia back in the nineties, serves to remind us that despite DynCorp’s rhetoric over the subsequent years not nearly enough has changed.
For those whose memories have faded, employees of DynCorp were accused of buying and keeping women and girls as young as 12 years old in sexual slavery in Bosnia. Perhaps even more shocking is that none of those involved have ever been held accountable within a court of law. The United States subsequently awarded DynCorp a new contract worth nearly $250 million to provide training to the developing Iraqi police force, even though the company’s immediate reaction to reports of the crimes was to fire the whistle-blowers.
As an article in the Jan. 29, Sunday Telegraph noted:
Most disappointing of all was what happened next: several men were sent home, but none was punished further. No future employer will know what these men were guilty of. I asked DynCorp if its guidelines had become more stringent since 2001 and was sent its code of ethics. It states that ‘engaging in or supporting any trafficking in persons […] is prohibited. Any person who violates this standard or fails to report violations of this standard shall be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment.’ So nothing has changed.
By the way, from a strictly observational viewpoint, given other problems DynCorp has had over the years since that took place, from dancing boys in Afghanistan to the recent settling of an EEOC suit regarding sexual harassment of one of its workers in Iraq, DynCorp is the Energizer Bunny of sexual harassment; it just keeps giving and giving and giving; doubtlessly reporters around the world are grateful.
USDOJ: Maersk Line to Pay Us $31.9 Million to Resolve False Claims Allegations for Inflated Shipping Costs to Military in Afghanistan and Iraq
7th Space January 3, 2012
WASHINGTON – Maersk Line Limited has agreed to pay the government $31.9 million to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims to the United States in connection with contracts to transport cargo in shipping containers to support United States troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Justice Department announced today
The government alleges that Maersk, a wholly-owned American subsidiary of Denmark-based A.P. Moller Maersk, knowingly overcharged the Department of Defense to transport thousands of containers from ports to inland delivery destinations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The government contends that Maersk inflated its invoices in various ways. For example, Maersk allegedly billed in excess of the contractual rate to maintain the operation of refrigerated containers holding perishable cargo at a port in Karachi, Pakistan, and at United States military bases in Afghanistan; allegedly billed excessive detention charges (or late fees) by failing to account for cargo transit times and a contractual grace period; allegedly billed for container delivery delays improperly attributed to the United States government; allegedly billed for container GPS-tracking and security services that were not provided or only partially provided; and allegedly failed to credit the government for rebates of container storage fees received by Maersk’s subcontractor at a Kuwaiti port.
“Our men and women in uniform overseas deserve the highest level of support provided by fair and honest contractors,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Department of Justice. “As the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to fight procurement fraud demonstrate, those who put profits over the welfare of members of our military will pay a hefty price.”
The settlement resolves allegations against Maersk that were filed in San Francisco by Jerry H. Brown II, a former industry insider. The lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals called “relators” to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the proceeds of a settlement or judgment awarded against a defendant. The relator in this action will receive $3.6 million as his statutory share of the proceeds of this settlement. In 2009, the United States resolved the relator’s allegations against shipping company APL Limited and its parent company for $26.3 million.
“Contractors that submit false claims for monies they are not owed cost the government millions of dollars every year,” said Melinda Haag, United States Attorney for the Northern District of California. “This settlement should send a strong signal that the government is committed to safeguarding taxpayer funds by ensuring that contractors operate ethically and responsibly.”
T Christian Miller ProPublica September 27, 2011
Private contractors injured while working for the U.S. government in Iraq and Afghanistan filed a class action lawsuit  in federal court on Monday, claiming that corporations and insurance companies had unfairly denied them medical treatment and disability payments.
The suit, filed in district court in Washington, D.C., claims that private contracting firms and their insurers routinely lied, cheated and threatened injured workers, while ignoring a federal law requiring compensation for such employees. Attorneys for the workers are seeking $2 billion in damages.
The suit is largely based on the Defense Base Act, an obscure law that creates a workers compensation system for federal contract employees working overseas. Financed by taxpayers, the system was rarely used until the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the most privatized conflicts in American history.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians working for federal contractors have been deployed to war zones to deliver mail, cook meals and act as security guards for U.S. soldiers and diplomats. As of June 2011, more than 53,000 civilians have filed claims for injuries in the war zones. Almost 2,500 contract employees have been killed, according to figures kept by the Department of Labor, which oversees the system.
An investigation by ProPublica, the Los Angeles Times and ABC’s 20/20  into the Defense Base Act system found major flaws, including private contractors left without medical care and lax federal oversight. Some Afghan, Iraqi and other foreign workers for U.S. companies were provided with no care at all.
The lawsuit, believed to be the first of its kind, charges that major insurance corporations such as AIG and large federal contractors such as Houston-based KBR deliberately flouted the law, thereby defrauding taxpayers and boosting their profits. In interviews and at Congressional hearings, AIG and KBR have denied such allegations and said they fully complied with the law. They blamed problems in the delivery of care and benefits on the chaos of the war zones
Statement concerning filing of class action for fraud and bad faith against KBR, DynCorp, Blackwater, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting, CNA Insurance, AIG Insurance and others who conspired to deny benefits to severely injured contractors and to harm them further
Scott Bloch files complaint for $2 billion against major government contractors like
KBR, Blackwater.XE, DynCorp, G4S/Wackenhut/Ronco Consulting and the global insurance carriers AIG, CNA, ACE and Zurich, on behalf of thousands of former employees, for unlawful, fraudulent and bad-faith mistreatment of injured employees and their families
Since 2003, top government contractors like Blackwater, KBR, DynCorp, CSA/AECOM and ITT have been perpetrating a fraud on their employees and on the American public.
The silent warriors who work for these companies, many of them decorated former military service members, have been injured, mistreated and abandoned by the contracting companies and their insurance carriers who have been paid hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums.
“It is a grave injustice,” Bloch said, “to those who rode alongside American soldiers, including Iraqi and Afghani Nationals, to be case aside without the benefits of the law. We are supposedly trying to bring them the rule of law. We are supposedly trying to encourage them in democratic institutions.
We are the ones asking them to believe in justice and individual rights.
This is a travesty to all Americans and those around the world who look to America for an example of humanitarian aid and proper treatment of workers.”
This is a lawsuit for damages in the amount of $2 billion to remedy the injuries and destruction caused to the lives, finances and mental and physical well being of thousands of American families and others whose loved ones were injured while serving America under contracts with the United States.
It seeks an additional unspecified amount to punish the companies who made massive profits while causing this harm to people unlawfully and maliciously and working a fraud on the American public who paid them.
“This abusive and illegal scheme by the defendants has been allowed to go on for too long.
We are talking about loss of life, suicide, loss of homes, marriages, families split up, “ Bloch said, “and the culprits are the large government contractors who should have treated their employees better, and the mega-insurance companies who were paid a hefty sum to make sure the employees were taken care of with uninterrupted benefits in the event of injuries in these war zones.”
This complaint is filed due to actions and omissions of defendants, in conspiracy with others, and individually, to defeat the right of American citizens and foreign nationals to receive their lawful benefits and compensation under the Defense Base Act (“DBA”), as it adopts the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (“LHWCA”).
The lawsuit explains that those sued engaged under the RICO statute in an enterprise of fraudulent and or criminal acts to further their scheme to defeat the rights of individuals who have been injured or suffered occupational diseases, and death, while on foreign soil in support of defense activities under the DBA.
These acts were perpetrated repeatedly through bank fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, using telephones, faxes, and United States mail .
“These are heroes, decorated by America’s Armed Services,” said Bloch.
“Some of the foreign contractors were decorated special forces soldiers from their countries who assisted the United States in combating threats. The sheer disregard for human dignity and law is reprehensible and deserves punishment.
These families and many others who have been harmed need treatment, need compensation, need redress of the wrongs that have been perpetrated by these huge companies and insurance carriers for the last 10 years.
They have earned $100 billion per year on the backs of these people, with the blood of these plaintiffs and those whom they represent.”
The complaint was filed in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and covers individuals from all over the United States, South Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and other counties.
Contact Scott J. Bloch, PA:
Scott Bloch, 202-496-1290
Corporate Whistle Blower Center Urges U.S. Contractor Employees in Afghanistan and Iraq to Step Forward for Huge Rewards if They Can Prove Massive Fraud
Press Release September 6, 2011
The Corporate Whistle Blower Center is urging employees of major U.S. federal contractors, or subcontractors, that have been defrauding the US taxpayer in Afghanistan, or Iraq to step forward, for what could be enormous rewards, provided they can prove it. An independent panel investigating wartime spending estimates that as much as $60 billion has been lost to waste and fraud over the past decade in Iraq and Afghanistan. In its final report to Congress, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said the figure could grow larger as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes and Iraq and Afghanistan are unable to sustain the schools, medical clinics, roads and power plants already built with American tax dollars. The Corporate Whistle Blower Center says, “In actuality we are pretty sure in many cases the schools, power plants, or medical clinics were never completed, and in other instances we know federal subcontractors gouged the U.S. government, and the taxpayers on everything from over inflated fuel, or food prices, to pretty much you name it. As long as you can prove it, and the amount exceeds two million dollars, there can be huge rewards for this type of information, as long as its substantial proof, and credible. If you possess this type of information please call us at 866-714-6466, because we would welcome the chance to explain the federal whistleblower reward programs to you.”
The material was chopped from a story I was working on for The Washington Post because of space considerations. Here’s the draft section that was cut:
Roughly a decade ago, two Dyncorp employees reported that some of their fellow employees were involved in the buying and selling of women and young girls in Bosnia. Dyncorp is a U.S. defense and security contractor that held U.S. logistics and security contracts for work in the former Yugoslavia.
Both were fired, retaliation for their whistle-blowing they said.
“The only reason they fired me was because I told on them, and I broke up their little boys’ club,” former Dyncorp employee Ben Johnston said at a congressional hearing in 2002.
A helicopter mechanic working for Dyncorp on an Air Force contract, Johnston had observed Dyncorp employees with young girls believed to have been purchased and employees bragging about buying and selling them in 1999 and 2000.
His allegations were investigated by the Army but after some initial work that did turn up significant evidence of trafficking, including a confession by one employee that women were sold “permanently,” they turned the investigation over to the local police. But the local police erroneously did not believe they could prosecute American contractors, according to a Human Rights Watch report. Nor did the Army investigators interview a Moldovan woman who was purchased, explore allegations that Johnston’s supervisors had raped a woman or that she or other women had been trafficked.
“There is my supervisor, the biggest guy there [in Bosnia] with DynCorp, videotaping having sex with these girls, girls saying no,” Johnston said at the hearing, referring to a video turned over to Army investigators, “but that guy now, to my knowledge, he is in America doing fine. There was no repercussion for raping the girl.”
In addition to the Army’s investigation, a Department of Defense Office of Inspector General assessment found evidence that contractor employees were involved in trafficking, the latter finding that it “continues to be an issue” in Bosnia as late as December 2003. However, no prosecutions for trafficking came as a result.
Johnston reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount with the company hours a British panel ruled against Dyncorp in another similar case and days before his case was to go to trial in Texas in August 2002.
The other company insider was Kathryn Bolkovac, a Nebraskan deployed by Dyncorp on a State Department contract as part of the U.S. contingent of the International Police Task Force there.
An October 9, 2000, e-mail she wrote, entitled, “Do Not Read This if You Have a Weak Stomach or Guilty Conscience,” was sent to more than 50 U.N. personnel in Bosnia detailing the involvement in trafficking of various aspects of the international force of which she was part. It started a chain reaction that led to her firing the following April, she said.
She won before a British employment tribunal in August 2002 that ordered Dyncorp to pay her nearly $180,000.
But she saw little government action to investigate her specific allegations, said Bolkovac, a former policewoman. In her estimation of what was done: “pretty much zero.”
On the issues she raised in Bosnia, “there’s nobody willing to go the extra mile and do the investigation,” she said.
But other roadblocks also existed. “Get rid of the victim and get ride of the perpetrator and you don’t have a case,” Bolkovac told me, referring to the pattern of sending offenders and victims back to their home countries.
These cases and the media attention they garnered played out around the same time President George W. Bush issued his government-wide “zero tolerance” trafficking policy in 2002 and spoke before the U.N. General Assembly in 2003.
Since Bosnia, DynCorp has continued to win large and important contracts with the U.S. government, including contracts to train police in both Iraq and Afghanistan. But accusations of continued involvement of its employees in prostitution followed it beyond the Balkans – at least according to one former DynCorp subcontractor who testified before the Senate Democratic Policy Committee in 2008.
Dyncorp employees ran a “prostitution ring” that imported prostitutes from Kuwait into Baghdad in armored vehicles and operated out of hotels along the Tigris River, according to Barry Halley, a former Dyncorp subcontractor. The women appeared to be adults from Eastern Europe, he said.
Halley observed this in early 2004 before switching jobs
Associated Press at SF Gate July 26, 2011
A whistleblower lawsuit against the security firm once known as Blackwater is heading to trial in Virginia.
Jury selection starts Tuesday in federal court in Alexandria in a lawsuit brought by former Blackwater employees Brad and Melan Davis.
They accuse the company of cheating the government in bills it submitted for protecting government employees in Iraq and Afghanistan.
U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III has already dismissed several of the lawsuit’s claims, including an allegation that Blackwater billed the government for prostitutes.
The Davises’ lawsuit is one of several legal skirmishes Blackwater has fought following its contract work. Blackwater now operates under the name Xe Services
At Blog of the Legal Times April 22, 2011
The U.S. Department of Justice announced this afternoon that it has settled a whistleblower lawsuit against two companies under contract with the U.S. Department of State.
DynCorp International LLC and its subcontractor, The Sandi Group (TSG), were sued by two former TSG employees in a qui tam lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act.
In the settlement, DynCorp will pay $7.7 million and TSG will pay $1.01 million, according to the DOJ release. The two former TSG employees will also receive a share up to $481,710.
A copy of the lawsuit filed against the two companies was not immediately available this afternoon, but according to the DOJ release, DynCorp was accused of inflating claims made to the government for construction costs, while TSG was accused of seeking reimbursement for danger pay that it had never actually paid out to U.S. employees working in Iraq.
“The hard work of stabilizing Iraq is challenging enough without contractors and subcontractors inflating the cost of rebuilding by making false claims at taxpayers’ expense,” Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, said in the DOJ release. “This case demonstrates that the Department of Justice will pursue these cases that undermine the integrity of our public contracting process.”
Stuart Bowen Jr., the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said in a statement that “false claims filed by contractors have been a problem in Iraq.”
G4S company and guards on flight carrying Jimmy Mubenga could be charged with manslaughter
Paul Lewis and Mathew Taylor The Guardian UK March 16, 2011
Scotland Yard is considering bringing a corporate manslaughter charge against the world’s largest private security firm over the death of an Angolan deportee.
Detectives investigating the death of Jimmy Mubenga, who collapsed while being deported on a commercial flight from Heathrow, have interviewed whistleblowers from G4S, the company hired by the government to deport foreign nationals.
They are considering whether the company could be held responsible for his death under rarely used legislation that came into force three years ago.
Passengers on British Airways flight 77 told police they saw three G4S guards heavily restraining Mubenga, who they said had been complaining of breathing difficulties before he collapsed. The guards were later arrested in connection with the death and, following interviews this week, were bailed until 4 May. They could face manslaughter charges.
However, sources with knowledge of the case have said police are also considering passing a file to the Crown Prosecution Service recommending a corporate manslaughter charge against G4S.
The Justice Department has intervened in a false claims lawsuit against KBR Inc., one of the Defense Department’s largest contractors, claiming the goliath logistics firm made illegal payments to a Turkish subcontractor.
On Friday, the government joined a lawsuit first filed in February 2007 by a KBR whistleblower who claimed the former Halliburton subsidiary violated the False Claims Act in connection with the Army’s third-generation Logistics Civil Augmentation Program contract.
“Contractors hired to provide support to our men and women in uniform must play by the rules,” said Tony West, assistant attorney general for the civil division of the Justice Department. “As we’ve done today, the Justice Department will take action against those whom we believe charge the taxpayers for goods and services that were not provided to American troops.”
Under the mammoth LOGCAP III contract, KBR provides a host of logistics and support services to troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan, including meals, water, mail, sanitation, fuel and showers. KBR performs the LOGCAP III contract largely through subcontractors. Please read the entire article here
Prosecutors allege that Samir Mahmoud Itani and his company American Grocers Ltd. changed the labels on food with a short shelf life and sold it to the U.S. military from 2003 to 2006 duringthe Iraq War.
A Texas businessman has agreed to pay $15 million to settle federal allegations of defrauding the government by selling old and potentially dangerous food to the U.S. military to supply combat soldiers serving in Iraq, according to a new federal complaint.
Prosecutors had alleged that Samir Mahmoud Itani and his company American Grocers Ltd. profiteered off the war in Iraq by buying food products with a short shelf life, paying a deep discount for them – and changing the labels to make them seem fresher than they really were.
Itani’s privately held American Grocers purchased core staples from some of the country’s leading food manufacturers, including Kraft Foods International Inc., the Hershey Co., Frito-Lay North America, Sara Lee Corp. and ConAgra Foodservice, according to the civil complaint filed in the U.S. District Court in Houston and interviews with the whistleblower in the case
Itani allegedly ordered employees to alter the packaging of a long shopping list — which included boxes of potato flakes, salad dressings, containers of lobster and ground hamburger patties among other things — in order to meet military procurement contractor requirements for freshness. And as the country’s military presence grew in the Middle East, Itani’s business boomed.
Prosecutors said that Itani, 51, two family members and a tight-knit group of business acquaintances used this scheme to sell at least $36 million worth of adulterated food products to the government from about 2003 to 2006 during the Iraq War, also known as Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“All it took,” according to the complaint, “was false promises, a warehouse and a few hundred buckets of nail polish remover.”
After semi-trucks loaded with pallets of raw Jennie-O turkeys, blocks of Kraft cheese and vats of J.M. Smucker’s peanut butter arrived at the warehouse and unloaded the goods, employees used acetone, spray paint or a small drill to erase the expiration dates on the product labels, according to court filings unsealed this week.
New dates were then printed out or stamped onto new stickers, according to the filings. The new labels falsely showed that the food would remain fresh for another nine to 18 months, depending on the product and how much shelf life it had left, according to federal court records.
“Companies that provide supplies to our men and women in uniform must be held to a high standard,” said Tony West, assistant attorney general for the civil division of the Department of Justice said in a statement. “We will be vigilant in protecting taxpayer funds from fraud, especially where the fraud relates to contracts meant to support our troops.”
Suzanne Itani, chief executive of American Grocers and Samir’s wife, said in a statement that the company still disputes the allegations asserted against it.
However, Itani said, the company is “proud of the service and products it delivers to its customers” and they “look forward to returning our full attention to serving our many loyal customers throughout the world.”