MINNEAPOLIS – Mark Sand & Gravel Co. has agreed to pay $1.75 million in damages for allegedly violating the federal False Claims Act and the Minnesota False Claims Act, by using unauthorized gravel materials in connection with several federally-funded road construction projects administered by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
According to the allegations, between 2013 and 2015, Mark Sand & Gravel Co. performed substantial work on three separate federally-funded road construction projects – for portions of Trunk Highways 34, 59/10, and 78 – in or near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. All such projects are required, by law and contract, to be performed in accordance with detailed terms and specifications using only approved materials. The government contends Mark Sand & Gravel Co. failed to follow contract specifications by using unauthorized and substandard materials, namely waste or shale rock included in the gravel mix for the projects, and making materially false claims and statements in connection with its use of those materials. The proceeds of the settlement will be divided by the federal and state governments according to the original funding of the projects.
“Failing to uphold contractual obligations by agreeing to do one thing but then doing another is not acceptable,” said Acting U.S. Attorney W. Anders Folk. “We will continue to use the False Claims Act and other tools at our disposal to ensure that contractors act with transparency and do the work they promised to do.”
“Performing road construction projects funded by the U. S. Department of Transportation comes with a set of detailed terms and specifications. When companies fail to follow contract specifications, use unauthorized materials, and make false statements concerning the quality of materials, the integrity of the work being performed is compromised,” said Andrea M. Kropf, Special Agent-In-Charge, Midwestern Region, Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General. “Today’s settlement signals our commitment to ensuring the integrity of the programs designed to maintain and improve our nation’s transportation infrastructure.”
This case was jointly investigated by the Office of Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and handled by the Affirmative Civil Enforcement unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota, as well as the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office.
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.
USAO - Minnesota;
Department of Transportation OIG