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Defense Contractor Hit with Ginormous Fraud Judgment

F-16

United Technologies Corporation was accused of overbilling the U.S. Air Force for engines for F-16s like these stationed in South Korea.

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An Ohio federal court this week ordered contractor United Technologies Corporation (UTC) to pay the government hundreds of millions of dollars in damages in a 14-year-old False Claims Act lawsuit.

In March 1999, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit accusing UTC’s Pratt & Whitney division of overbilling the U.S. Air Force for F-15 and F-16 jet engines. The government alleged that Pratt knowingly inflated and falsely certified its estimated costs for engine parts between 1985 and 1991. Over those years, the Air Force paid Pratt more than $3 billion for the engines.

The case was heard by the U.S. District Court in Dayton, Ohio, in a bench trial lasting from October 2004 until April 2005. Three years later, the court issued its ruling, finding that Pratt had defrauded the Air Force, causing it to overpay by $228 million. However, the court awarded the government only $7 million in damages. Both sides appealed.

In November 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed the fraud determination but remanded the case, ordering the District Court to reconsider damages. The District Court did as the Sixth Circuit instructed, and on Monday it issued its decision: UTC now owes the federal government $473 million, plus millions more in interest accruing since the 1980s (see page 16 of the ruling for a breakdown of the damages). Using an online interest calculator, I determined that UTC could be on the hook for approximately $963 million. We’ll find out the exact amount when the Court enters the final judgment on July 1.

That said, it could be a while before Uncle Sam sees a single penny of damages. A UTC spokesman told the Project On Government Oversight that the company strongly disagrees with the decision and will file an appeal.

UTC was the sixth largest federal contractor in fiscal year 2012. Most of its $8.3 billion in contracts (see fiscal year 2012 spreadsheet under “Top 100 Contractors Report”) that year were with the Pentagon. POGO’s Federal Contractor Misconduct Database shows UTC has 17 resolved misconduct instances and $931.8 million in misconduct penalties since 1995. Its most recent high-profile misconduct incident occurred last year when UTC and two of its subsidiaries, including Pratt & Whitney Canada (PWC), paid more than $75 million to settle charges of illegally exporting military software to China. PWC also pleaded guilty to violating export law and making false statements.

Image from the Department of Defense.

By: Neil Gordon
Investigator, POGO

Neil Gordon, Investigator Neil Gordon is an investigator for the Project On Government Oversight. Neil investigates and maintains POGO's Federal Contractor Misconduct Database.

Topics: Contract Oversight

Related Content: Contractor Accountability, F-16, Federal Contractor Misconduct, Wasteful Defense Spending

Authors: Neil Gordon

Submitted by rico at: June 24, 2013
Business as usual with Federal contractors eating at the public through.
Submitted by Anonymous at: June 23, 2013
One really has to beg the question, 'We are still doing business with these guys because...?' Fraud, false billing, misconduct and illegally selling weapons. Sure, these are great guys, or is it because Dick Cheney has a lot of stock?
Submitted by hrprrbn at: June 22, 2013
Thank you for such an informative article! I would just like to point out that the caption for the photograph should read "United Technologies Corporation was accused of overbilling the U.S. Air Force for engines for F-16s like these stationed in South Korea." The use of the word 'ones' is poor grammar, and unnecessary. I find it appalling (and annoying!) that so many 'professional' articles contain misspellings, poor grammar, and the use of maxims and sayings which the author has twisted and/or quoted completely erroneously. Please know that I appreciate the work done by POGO, that I read the articles with gratitude for the work done.
Submitted by Tuttie at: June 22, 2013
I'm stunned that when you committ fruad against the government for billions of dollars the fine is a mere small amount for the fruad. No wonder this behavior continues.
Submitted by RYoung at: June 22, 2013
Clean up the DOD and Welfare system and put a HUGE dent in our deficit.
Submitted by arky at: June 22, 2013
OK, while this is all wonderful, how much did they overbill? Shouldn't they have to actually refund the amount the overbilled plus interest and not just be subject to a fine? And, since this is defrauding the government, and therefore the taxpayers, shouldn't someone go to jail?
Submitted by shakker at: June 22, 2013
This is a situation where there should be punishment for the executive management and the board of directors. Jail time in a military pen, just like the kind an average soldier attends when he steals money from the government. A fine that takes from the shareholders puts the penalty on people who have no control over the day to day management of the company.
Submitted by Jack at: June 22, 2013
It's about time these scum bums started paying for their crimes.

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