Thanks to a whistleblower, an Indiana contractor that fraudulently fattened up tests on the asphalt content of its roadwork to receive higher compensation is now paying up.
Gohmann Asphalt and Construction Co., Clarksville, Ind., this month paid $6.7 million to the federal government, $1.1 million to Kentucky and $362,165 to Indiana. Gohmann, which did not admit wrongdoing, was nabbed for manipulating asphalt mixture inspections during about $60 million of work on Interstate 64 near Louisville between 1997 and 2006. “I don’t remember anything like this happening around here in the past 15 years,” says David Huber, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky, which investigated the case.
The agencies say Gohmann engaged in “core-swapping,” or manipulating test samples so it could receive maximum payment for surpassing a prenegotiated level of asphalt pave density in its work.
Gohmann had to return a $5.3 million bonus paid by Kentucky and the feds in 2001 for early completion of a resurfacing project on I-64. President Richard L. Cripe said in a statement that the firm’s “efforts and ethical practices” would allow it to achieve a practical resolution to the claims against it.
The federal settlement includes a $1.1 million payment to whistleblower Paul Roederer, a former asphalt crew supervisor for Gohmann until 2002. He now owns his own construction firm. In 2003, Roederer filed a Qui Tam complaint a provision under the False Claims Act that allows a citizen to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the U.S. “He’s saved the taxpayers millions of dollars,”says C. Dean Furman, Reoderer’s lawyer. The suit did not render his client immune from possible prosecution for fraudulent acts at Gohmann, he adds.