A whistleblower was recently paid $470,000 of a $2 million settlement after successfully challenging what she believed — with agreement from government prosecutors — to be a shell company at Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
The subcontractor who was put in charge of setting up this shell company, Federal Engineers and Constructors, worked under a joint venture called Washington Closure Hanford. The venture received a multibillion-dollar contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to operate the site from 2005 to 2016. The contract paid for cleanup of the site after decades of producing plutonium.
In 2009, FCE awarded a $2 million contract to Sage Tec. This company, however, was owned by Laura Shikashio, the spouse of the company’s former vice president, Larry Burdge. Ms. Shikashio allegedly misrepresented Sage Tec to be a qualified disadvantaged small business to be eligible for the contract, according to records from the court. Therefore, federal prosecutors argued Sage Tec should never have received the contract, and that it was a front company for FEC, which essentially performed all the work on the subcontracts.
The whistleblower discovered the scheme and filed a lawsuit, which was later joined by federal prosecutors. She learned that WCH’s contracting officer was shopping for shell companies that could qualify for contracts that would have otherwise gone to actual small or disadvantaged companies.
Filing a whistleblower claim
Whenever you become aware of wrongdoing within your business or organization, especially instances of fraud, you have a responsibility to speak up. Fortunately, the federal government affords some strong protections to whistleblowers as a means of encouraging them to come forward with valuable information.
For more information about how to file a whistleblower claim, meet with a respected Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.