On February 22nd, food service equipment company TriMark USA agreed to pay $48.5 million to resolve allegations that it fraudulently obtained contracts intended for service-disabled veterans. (LINK to DOJ Press Release on TriMark’s False Claims Settlement). Federal government contracts are often reserved, or “set aside”, for small businesses in a particular socioeconomic category. (LINK to U.S. Government Webpage on Set-Aside Contracts). TriMark entered into agreements with numerous small businesses that qualified for these government set-aside contracts due to status as a ‘service-disabled, veteran-owned small business’, but TriMark supplied almost all of the equipment the government believed it was purchasing from such small businesses. (LINK to Shore News Network Story on TriMark’s Settlement).
United States Attorney Vanessa R. Waldref said TriMark’s conduct “demonstrates a shocking disregard for fair competition”, and that, “[t]he fact that the money they were stealing was intended for service-disabled veterans is simply unconscionable.” The case began in May 2019, when a whistleblower provided evidence of TriMark’s actions. (LINK to Office of Inspector General Press Release on False Claims Settlement). Pursuant to the False Claim Act’s whistleblower provisions, the original whistleblower will receive $10,912,500 of the total settlement from TriMark. United States Attorney Carla B. Freedman said the case “demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to ensuring the integrity of its business partners, and the serious consequences for depriving legitimate small businesses of the opportunities that the government has allocated to them.”