Mass. AG settles with Calif. contractor over airport renovation
BOSTON (Legal Newsline) - Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has reached a $2.3 million settlement with a California-based construction company that allegedly submitted inflated and false invoices during the renovation of Logan International Airport.
The settlement announced Thursday resolves allegations that a former URS Corporation senior employee submitted hundreds of inflated and false invoices, resulting in an overpayment of more than $1.3 million. The amount of the settlement is in addition to the $1 million URS already paid the Massachusetts Port Authority before this litigation.
"Companies that are awarded contracts for state and local projects, funded by public dollars, must be held to a high standard," Coakley said. "In this case, a senior level URS employee defrauded Massport and we pursued litigation to reclaim these funds as well as win additional payments for this behavior. We greatly appreciate the cooperation of Massport and their assistance with achieving this result."
Massport filed suit against URS in December 2009, alleging breach of contract, fraud, and unfair or deceptive trade practices. Coakley filed a lawsuit against URS in December 2010 for alleged violations of the Massachusetts False Claims Act. The lawsuits were consolidated in January 2011.
"Massport is grateful for the work of attorney general Coakley and her staff to make certain the authority was fairly reimbursed," David Mackey, the interim CEO of Massport, said. "With this settlement, Massport will be compensated not only for the theft, but also for interest, and the time and effort by staff and outside counsel to protect our interests.''
URS will pay $2.3 million to resolve the allegations, including the repayment of the payments and overcharges to resolve claims filed under the state's False Claim Act. Massport will receive $1.9 million of the settlement payment and $400,000 will go to the state's general fund.
The civil lawsuits concerned the alleged misconduct of George Papadopoulos, who was the URS project manager for the renovation of Logan. Papadopoulos allegedly submitted claims to URS on a monthly basis for thousands of dollars of personal reimbursements. He allegedly masked the phony charges by submitting false invoices that contained inflated charges on behalf of URS to Massport. Massport would pay URS for the allegedly inflated amount and URS would then reimburse Papadopoulos for the personal expenses.
Papadopoulos pled guilty on April 21, 2010, to larceny and procurement fraud after Coakley's office filed criminal charges against him. He was later sentenced to four to five years in state prison.