- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for Salem Company Sued After Failing to Refund State $3.4 Million for 900,000 Undelivered N95 Masks, Funneling Taxpayer Funds to Owners
BOSTON — A Salem-based limited liability company and its owners have been sued for their failure to return $3.4 million to the state for N95 face masks not delivered during the pandemic, instead diverting hundreds of thousands of dollars to the owners and their families for personal use, including casino trips, cash withdrawals, furniture and meal delivery services, Attorney General Maura Healey announced today.
In a complaint filed Monday in Suffolk Superior Court, the AG’s Office alleges that Bedrock Group, LLC and its owners – Bedrock Consulting Group, Anthony Damore, Jonathan Roth, Enrique Sperling, and Howard Sperling – made repeated false claims to the Commonwealth for more than two years concerning their intentions and efforts to return funds to Massachusetts for more than 900,000 masks they failed to deliver during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“During the height of the pandemic, when the country was facing a shortage of N95 masks, this company and its owners took millions of dollars from Massachusetts for much-needed PPE only to enrich themselves,” AG Healey said. “We are suing to hold Bedrock and its owners accountable for their deceit and to get taxpayers their money back.”
The lawsuit further alleges that by failing to return the money owed to the state and by continuing to make false claims about their intention to do so, the company and its owners violated an assurance of discontinuance the company reached with the AG’s Office in 2021 in which they agreed to pay the state approximately $3.4 million by January 2022 to cover the funds owned plus $250,000 in penalties. To date, Bedrock has made only one $100,000 payment and delivered 100,000 of the 1 million masks ordered by the state.
The AG’s complaint alleges that in the 13 months following the state’s $3.6 million payment to Bedrock for the N95 masks in April 2020, Bedrock used taxpayer dollars to complete more than $700,000 in direct transfers to Roth, Damore, Howard Sperling, and Enrique Sperling, and members of the Sperling family, while at the same time not paying the state and making false claims about the status of payments. Additionally, the company racked up more than $100,000 in debit and credit card charges that were unrelated to its business functions including $52,000 in charges at casinos, more than $46,000 in Venmo cash transfers, $7,400 at a furniture store in California, and more than $3,000 in UberEats food delivery services.
Through the lawsuit, the AG’s Office is seeking to recover the full $3,355,422 owed to the state, treble damages, civil penalties and attorneys’ fees.
This case is part of AG Healey’s ongoing work to hold accountable those who have tried to profit illegally from the COVID-19 pandemic. In January 2021, the AG’s False Claims Division reached a $1,000,000 settlement with Colonial Auto Group for encouraging its workers to continue working at the outset of the pandemic, despite being furloughed and collecting unemployment benefits. And in November 2020, the AG’s False Claims Division reached a $500,000 agreement with a Maryland-based company for falsely marketing and selling to the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority a product claiming to be an effective hand sanitizer alternative to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The Division later sued another distributor of the fake hand sanitizer product for falsely marketing and selling it to school districts across the state, claiming it could kill the COVID-19 virus and provide a multi-hour barrier against the virus without the need for reapplication.
This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Sean Hildenbrandt of AG Healey’s False Claims Division, with assistance from False Claims Division Chief Amy Crafts, False Claims Division Paralegal Cara Bradley, and Colleen Frost of the AG’s Civil Investigations Division.
The False Claims Division was created by AG Healey in 2015 to safeguard public funds and promote integrity and accountability in public contracting. AG Healey urges anyone with information about suspected fraud or abuse relating to state or municipal contracts or funds to contact the False Claims Division’s tip line at 617-963-2600.