Bryan Cohen Jan. 11, 2013, 7:18pm

HAUPPAUGE, New York (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement Friday with a Lindenhurst-based contracting company and its top executives for allegedly engaging in systematic overbilling of taxpayers.

The Lin-Kim Company and its officers, Melissa Peters, Kenneth Buddenhagen and Linda Gregorio, allegedly overbilled New York taxpayers for emergency construction jobs at upstate prisons. Under the terms of the settlement, the defendants must pay $390,000 and are permanently barred from working for the state in the future.

"My office won't stand for theft of taxpayer money from anyone, including basic construction service providers such as Lin-Kim," Schneiderman said. "Here, a construction contracting company flagrantly padded its bills and expected it would not get caught. We will continue to aggressively pursue large and small businesses that falsely represent the work they do for the state and we will hold them accountable for any misdeeds that rip off New York taxpayers. By barring these individuals from ever working for the state again, we seek to protect future tax dollars and make contractors think twice before fleecing the public."

Between 2006 and 2008, the Lin-Kim Company was hired for emergency construction repair work at two prisons, the Otisville Correctional Facility and the Arthur Kill Correctional Facility. Lin-Kim allegedly overcharged the state by approximately $195,000 in connection with multiple contracts and allegedly engaged in various overbilling tactics, including the knowing misclassification of low-wage work performed at the prisons as skilled labor.

The matter was looked into pursuant to the New York False Claims Act, which was strengthened by amendments authored by Schneiderman when he was a state senator. The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act allows the state to collect up to triple damages and fines from corporations or people who defraud the government.

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