In a recent CARES Act Claim, the U.S. Attorney’s Office COVID-19 Fraud Strike Force exposed the fraudulent practices of government contractor HPM Corporation (“HPMC”) and its owners and executives, Holly and Grover Cleveland Mooers.
As part of a criminal and False Claims Act settlement, HPMC admitted to defrauding the government and agreed to pay nearly $3,000,000 in restitution and penalties, of which $250,000 must be paid personally by the Mooers.
What is the False Claims Act?
The False Claims Act is a federal whistleblower law that allows private individuals to file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States government (often referred to as a qui tam lawsuit). If successful, the whistleblower is awarded a reward of between 15% to 25% of the retrieved proceeds for confidentially disclosing fraud that results in a financial loss to the government.
If you are aware of fraud against the government, we invite you to call our office to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with experienced Seattle whistleblower attorney Stephen Teller. Steve can listen to the facts of your case and explain your legal options for reporting misconduct.
What is a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan?
As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Congress authorized up to $669 billion in forgivable loans to small businesses through Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.
Such loans were designed to provide funding to small and local businesses to keep their workforces employed and to mitigate the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) was authorized to grant forgiveness of these loans so long as the proceeds were utilized for payroll and other eligible expenses.
How Did HPMC and the Mooers Fraudulently Obtain COVID-19 Relief Funds?
In April 2020, HPMC received a $1,344,700 PPP loan, which was forgiven after the company made materially false representations to the SBA. Instead of using the PPP funds to cover legitimate business and payroll expenses, the Mooers transferred the entirety of the loan proceeds from a business to a personal account.
As part of a deferred prosecution agreement and False Claims Act Settlement, HPMC has agreed to pay $2,689,400 in restitution and penalties, and to enter into a 3-year probationary period. Additionally, the Mooers have agreed to pay an additional $250,000 civil penalty, which must be paid from their personal assets.
If You Are Aware of PPP Loan or Pandemic Relief Fraud, Call Our Office to Schedule a Free Consultation.
If you have knowledge regarding a business that fraudulently acquired or utilized PPP loan or other COVID-19 relief, we invite you to call our office to schedule a free consultation to learn about your options for exposing fraud and filing a False Claims Act lawsuit. Under the False Claims Act, those reporting fraud against the federal government may be eligible for a significant reward from funds recovered as part of a lawsuit against wrongdoers.
At Teller Law, we advance all costs of a False Claims Act lawsuit, so you will not need to come out of pocket for fees and expenses. Additionally, in a False Claims Act, you will not need to pay any legal fees up front for our time. We handle these cases on a contingency fee basis, and in addition frequently receive fee reimbursement for the hours expended, as determined by a court in accordance with the False Claims Act statute and applicable regulations. These fees are added to your recovery before the contingency percentage is calculated.