C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., one of Georgia's largest roadbuilders, came to an agreement with the U.S. Federal Highway Administration to pay a $1-million fine as part of a settlement over false claims related to the disadvantaged-business-enterprise program.
A federal investigation concluded that, from 2007 to 2010, the contractor filed "false and misleading" reports that work was performed by a certified DBE trucking firm when, in fact, a non-DBE firm had completed it.
Under the agreement, the Marietta, Ga.-based contractor must appoint a corporate compliance officer, establish a DBE-compliance program and retain an independent monitor.
In a statement, C.W. Matthews admitted no wrongdoing. The firm claims that a trucking firm at the center of the controversy was connected to it through acquisition of another company and misrepresented itself as a legitimate DBE. According to the statement, the firm, Longoria Trucking, was listed as an approved DBE by the state.
"It is important to understand that [C.W. Matthews] did not admit to any unlawful conduct, and there was no allegation whatsoever that (C.W. Matthews) had any actual knowledge that the trucking company was not a valid DBE vendor," said Sheldon Fram, corporate counsel.
After discovering the trucking company was not a legitimate DBE, the contractor ended its relationship and determined that none of its employees knew about the fraud, according to Fram.
"C.W. Matthews has agreed to accept responsibility, as the prime contractor, since the trucking company worked on [our] projects,” said Michael Bell, executive vice president in the statement.
C.W. Matthews has since revamped its procedures for qualifying DBE firms.