Avon-Based Construction Company to Pay $190,000 to Resolve False Claims Allegations
BOSTON – A construction company based in Avon has agreed to pay $190,000 and conduct trainings to resolve allegations it falsely certified compliance with equal opportunity requirements on multiple public construction contracts in Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
The assurance of discontinuance, filed Monday in Suffolk Superior Court, alleges that D’Allessandro Corp. violated the state’s consumer protection laws and False Claims Act by failing to comply with provisions requiring it to subcontract a certain percentage of work to businesses known as Minority/Women Business Enterprises (M/WBEs).
“Construction companies that take advantage of programs aimed at boosting opportunities for women and minority-owned businesses will be held accountable by our office,” AG Healey said. “Equal opportunity requirements in public contracts are meant to ensure that all businesses have the chance to engage in government work and we will do all we can to protect that right.”
According to the AG’s investigation, between January 2008 and January 2010, D’Allessandro procured and performed15 public works-related contracts with political subdivisions of Massachusetts, listing minority-owned business enterprise Luxor Equipment, Inc. – now known as Margen, Inc. – as an intended MBE subcontractor for a variety of services involving water, sewer and drainage repairs, bypass pumping, paving, and site preparation.
The AG’s Office alleges that D’Allessandro improperly claimed full MBE credit for work that Luxor contracted out to non-MBEs, and for supplies Luxor purchased.
State and federal laws establish programs to promote equal opportunity in public contracts by requiring provisions that ensure a certain percentage of jobs go to minority, women, and disadvantaged business enterprises. In general, public construction contracts contain provisions requiring that not less than a certain percentage of the contract be performed by M/WBEs, and bidders must agree to meet these percentages as a pre-condition of receiving a contract. Failure to comply with the provisions can result in a loss of the contract or damages.
Under the terms of the assurance of discontinuance, D’Allessandro will pay $190,000 to the Commonwealth, consisting of $165,000 penalties and $25,000 for costs and fees of the investigation.
D’Allessandro will also conduct annual trainings for all current employees in Massachusetts concerning compliance with M/WBE contract provisions and applicable laws and guidelines.
This matter was referred to the AG’s Office by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of the Inspector General.
AG Healey’s False Claims Division works to safeguard public funds by ensuring that companies and individuals that seek to obtain government contracts or funds maintain high standards of integrity. In August, the AG’s Office reached a $1.4 million settlement with three construction companies, including Margen, to resolve allegations they falsely certified compliance with equal opportunity requirements on multiple public construction contracts in Massachusetts.
The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Cassandra Arriaza of AG Healey’s False Claims Division, with assistance from Assistant Attorney General Gillian Feiner, Chief of AG Healey’s False Claims Division.