Moving company in city to pay $575,000 to settle U.S. claims

July 19, 2000|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore moving and storage company will pay the federal government $575,000 to settle claims that it collected union wage increases for contract work at the National Security Agency done mainly by nonunion workers who never saw the extra money.

The payment resolves a lawsuit federal prosecutors filed in September against Guardian Moving & Storage after U.S. Defense Department investigators uncovered the overbilling. Guardian did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement reached Monday, and the South Baltimore hauler is not prohibited from seeking future government contracts.

"It's true that Guardian did make a mistake, and that's why we settled the case," said Bruce M. Luchansky, the company's attorney.

In the complaint filed last fall, federal lawyers contended that Guardian fraudulently profited from its contract with NSA for packing and moving office furniture and equipment at the security agency's Fort Meade headquarters.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles J. Peters said yesterday the government estimated that Guardian had improperly collected about $250,000 in extra wages from NSA. If the government had won the case at trial, it could have collected up to three times that amount under the federal False Claims Act.

The $575,000 agreed to in the settlement includes restitution and a penalty roughly equal to the improper payments.

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