Whistleblower Lawsuit Filed under the Qui Tam Provisions of the False Claims Act

March 29, 2016

The Hayner Hoyt Corporation to Pay $5 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Liability

Source: Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs, March 14, 2016US Department of Justice

Government Contractor and Several Individuals Admit That They Violated Laws Designed to Enhance Contracting Opportunities for Our Nation’s Service-Disabled Veterans

Syracuse-based Hayner Hoyt Corporation has agreed to pay $5 million, plus interest, to resolve allegations that its chairman and chief executive officer, Gary Thurston, its president, Jeremy Thurston, employees, Ralph Bennett and Steve Benedict and Hayner Hoyt affiliates LeMoyne Interiors and Doyner Inc., engaged in conduct designed to exploit contracting opportunities reserved for service-disabled veterans.

The United States has long used government contracting to promote small businesses in general and specifically small businesses owned by veterans who have service-connected disabilities.  Congress has established a targeted procurement program for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which requires the VA to set annual goals for contracting with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.  To be eligible for these contracts, an applicant must qualify as a “small business.”  In addition to being a small business, a service-disabled veteran must own and control the business and handle its strategic decisions and day-to-day management.

The settlement resolves allegations that the defendants orchestrated a scheme designed to take advantage of the service-disabled veteran-owned small business program to secure government contracts for a now-defunct company, 229 Constructors LLC, that Gary and Jeremy Thurston created and controlled and subcontracts for Hayner Hoyt and its affiliates.  The Thurstons – neither of whom is a veteran – exerted significant influence over 229 Constructors’ decision-making during the bid, award and performance of these contracts in various ways, including by staffing the company entirely with then-current and former Hayner Hoyt employees and their spouses.  They also provided 229 Constructors with considerable resources, which provided it with a competitive advantage over legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses neither affiliated with nor controlled by a larger, non-veteran owned corporation.  Hayner Hoyt officials caused false certifications and statements to be made to the government representing that 229 Constructors met all requirements to be a service-disabled veteran-owned small business when they knew, or should have known, that 229 Constructors did not meet such requirements.  By diverting contracts and benefits intended for our nation’s service-disabled veterans to Hayner Hoyt and its affiliates, the defendants undercut Congress’s intent of encouraging contract awards to legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses.  Read More …

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