Whistleblower lawsuit says defense contractor defrauded the Marines of $1.3 billion for vehicle parts

Posted December 5th, 2019.

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by Russ Read

A government contractor allegedly defrauded the Pentagon of $1.3 billion by inflating prices for armored vehicle parts sold to the Marine Corps, according to court documents filed in a whistleblower case.

Navistar Defense allegedly forged fraudulent invoices and other documentation so that it could inflate prices for suspension systems on mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, or MRAPs, according to Duquoin Burgess, a former Navistar employee.

“Contractors who falsify information to induce the military to pay inflated prices will be held accountable,” Jody Hunt, assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Civil Division, said in a Wednesday statement announcing that the United States has joined in the lawsuit. “We will continue to protect the military’s procurement process from such abuse.”

In 2007, Navistar won a contract to replace the Marine Corps’s old Humvees with several hundred MRAPs, which proved to be crucial in protecting troops from improved explosive devices. The vehicles were considered so important to troop survival that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates intervened to ensure they were supplied to troops as quickly as possible.

Two years later, the Marine Corps asked Navistar to improve the suspension systems on some of the vehicles so they could better navigate terrain in Afghanistan. Navistar allegedly provided forged documents of prior sales to the Marines in order to conceal the inflated prices it was charging the Marine Corps.

Burgess, a former Navistar government contracts manager, initially filed the suit on behalf of the U.S. and himself as part of the whistleblower case in 2013. The government joined the suit and filed its complaint with the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

“Through rigorous enforcement of the False Claims Act, we protect taxpayer dollars from waste, fraud, and abuse,” Jessie Liu, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a statement. “We expect the utmost integrity and reliability from the contractors that design and build equipment that is meant to ensure that our men and women in uniform are adequately protected as they serve our country.”

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