Aug 11 2011
The State (South Carolina) - by Kelly Davis
Criminal investigations – resulting in some historic convictions – have concluded into fraud allegations among Savannah River Site contractors about misuse of federal money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia announced the end of the investigation today. The office worked with the Department of Energy’s Office of Investigations since 2009 to obtain what it said in a news release were the first criminal convictions and the first civil settlements related to stimulus fraud.
The investigation centered on contractors hired using ARRA money by Savannah River Site’s operators to handle nuclear waste cleanup projects. The Department of Energy’s inspectors discovered false claims from the contractors for per diem payments. Individual claims were small, but added up to millions of dollars over time.
"This investigation sends a clear message that dispels any belief that "small dollar" frauds against the United States may be committed with impunity," U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said.
The first criminal convictions came with guilty pleas from Philip Stansberry, Joseph Lohre and George Dick, who received five years of probation, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. They received five years of probation.
The first civil settlements were reached with Southern Recruiters and Consultants, Inc., and Robert Gisiner. Southern agreed to pay more than $47,000 in restitution and damages; Gisiner paid more than $22,000.
Another plaintiff completed a pre-trial intervention program and charges were dropped, the office said.
In all, five criminal convictions have resulted from the investigation. $1.9 million in fines has been paid by the contractors and $700,000 in ARRA funding has been recovered, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said. More criminal and civil investigations are under way.