Freight Carriers Agree to Pay $6.85 Million to Resolve Allegations of Knowingly Presenting False Claims to the Department of Defense
(STL.News) YRC Freight Inc. (YRC), Roadway Express Inc. and Yellow Transportation Inc. (collectively the YRC defendants), have agreed to pay approximately $6.85 million to resolve allegations under the False Claims Act that they knowingly presented false claims to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) by systematically overcharging for freight carrier services and making false statements to hide their misconduct.
The YRC defendants, transporters of industrial, commercial and retail goods, contracted with DOD to ship military freight across the country from September 2005 to October 2013. Under their contracts, the YRC defendants were paid based in part upon a shipment’s weight.
The United States alleged that the YRC defendants fraudulently billed the United States for delivery charges based on higher weights when, after reweighing the shipments, they knew that the actual weights were lower. For more than seven years, the YRC defendants allegedly reweighed many shipments before final delivery, and when the reweighs showed that a shipment weight was more than the original weight, the YRC defendants charged DOD for these higher weights. But when the reweighs showed that a shipment weight was less than the original weight, the YRC defendants allegedly concealed from DOD the lower weights and instead charged DOD for the original, inflated weights. To further hide the scheme, the YRC defendants allegedly made false statements assuring DOD that they would comply with the rules requiring them to correct discrepancies uncovered during any reweigh process.
“We expect companies to do business with the government honestly and fairly,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Brian M. Boynton, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “This settlement demonstrates the department’s continuing commitment to hold accountable those who defraud the government and, by extension, the American taxpayers.”
“The Defense Department entered into contracts with YRC, Roadway, and Yellow for shipping services,” said U.S. Attorney Trini E. Ross for the Western District of New York. “These companies, which purposely overcharged for these services and then made false statements to cover up their actions, are now being held accountable for their behavior.”
The civil settlement includes the resolution of claims brought under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by James Hannum, an employee of Yellow Transportation. Under those provisions, a private party can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of any recovery. The qui tam case is captioned U.S. ex rel. Hannum v. YRC Freight, Inc., Roadway Express, Inc., and Yellow Transportation, Inc., Civil Action No. 08-0811 (W.D.N.Y.). Mr. Hannum will receive $1.3 million, plus interest, as his share of the settlement.
“Investigating schemes that undermine the integrity of Department of Defense (DoD) procurement is a top priority for the DoD Office of Inspector General’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS),” said Special Agent in Charge Patrick J. Hegarty of the DCIS Northeast Field Office. “Today’s announcement demonstrates our commitment to work with the Department of Justice and our law enforcement partners to hold companies accountable for artificially inflating the cost of services provided to the DoD.”
“After working extensively on this case, DCAA is gratified the work of our auditors made a significant contribution to the outcome of this case,” said Lead Investigative Auditor John Manfredonia for the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA).
The resolution obtained in this matter was the result of a coordinated effort between the Justice Department’s Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch, Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York, with assistance from DCIS; DCAA, and the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Command.
The matter was handled by Trial Attorneys Benjamin Young and John F. Schifalacqua of the Justice Department’s Civil Division and Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Coriell for the Western District of New York.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.