- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG’s Office Recovers Nearly $200,000 From Government Contractor That Skimmed Funds From Public Works Projects
BOSTON — Attorney General Maura Healey announced today the civil recovery of $1,875,000 — with $195,871.69 going to Massachusetts — from V.J. Associates Inc. of New England and its affiliates (VJ Associates) for falsely inflating bills related to consulting services on public-works projects in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey.
The AG’s investigation began after a whistleblower, a former employee of VJ Associates, filed a qui tam complaint under the Massachusetts False Claims Act, which allows individuals to file civil actions on behalf of the government and share in any recovery.
VJ Associates provided cost estimating and scheduling services as subcontractors on more than 100 public works projects throughout the Commonwealth. AG Healey’s investigation revealed that VJ Associates was engaged in an overbilling scheme in which it would routinely inflate hours worked on projects paid on an hourly basis. Under pressure from management, employees openly discussed and described improper billing in emails as “juicing” and “tagging” hours in order to “maximize” bills on government projects and not “leave money on the table.”
As part of this agreement, VJ Associates admitted to submitting false bills and agreed to be debarred from submitting bids or being awarded any public works contracts with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or any other government entity within the state for a period of five years.
In November, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts announced that it reached a criminal settlement with VJ Associates relating to this long-running overbilling scheme. Under the terms of the agreement, VJ Associates agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to pay a criminal fine of $530,000.
AG Healey was joined in her investigation of VJ Associates by the Attorneys General of New York, New Jersey, and the U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts.
This matter was handled for Massachusetts by Assistant Attorney General Erin Staab with assistance from False Claims Division Chief Amy Crafts. The False Claims Division was created by AG Healey in 2015 to safeguard public funds and promote integrity and accountability in public contracting.