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Construction company settles fraud claim involving contracts

A southern Illinois construction company has agreed to pay back $400,000 to settle a federal complaint accusing it of fraudulently accepting $8 million worth of contracts reserved for disadvantaged small businesses, federal prosecutors say.

R&W Builders agreed to repay the money in a civil settlement to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a news release.

The allegations were raised against the O’Fallon company during a federal investigation and no criminal complaint was filed.

R&W Builders owner and President Jill Rutter said she cannot comment on the investigation or the settlement, but she told the Belleville News-Democrat, “Just don’t believe everything you read.”

In 2014, after R&W was no longer eligible to participate in a Small Business Administration program intended to aid small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, the company entered into a joint venture with St. Louis-based Global Environmental, Inc.

That joint venture, called Patriot Commercial Construction, LLC, successfully secured more than 30 task orders with a combined value of about $8 million from the Air Force through a contract at Scott Air Force Base, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.

The government claims R&W misrepresented itself to obtain the SBA’s approval on the joint-venture agreement and, as result, received numerous government contracts that would have otherwise been limited for bid to participants in the SBA’s program for disadvantaged small businesses.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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