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Contractor on Route 116 bridge near Sycamore Park resolves fines over violations

BRISTOL — A contractor who helped build the Route 116 bridge near Sycamore Park in Bristol has paid several hundred thousand dollars to resolve allegations that the company violated federal and state laws in connection with the project.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Bristol recently announced that Lyndon Center-based general contractor J.A. McDonald Inc., or JAM, and JAM owner and President Eric Boyden paid $270,000 to the United States to resolve allegations that JAM violated the federal False Claims Act and the Vermont False Claims Act by knowingly causing the state of Vermont to present false claims for payment to federal reimbursement agencies in connection with the federally funded construction of the two-span bridge.
More specifically, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, the settlement resolves allegations that JAM employees intentionally altered critical bridge components such that the bridge no longer conformed to specified safety standards, and that JAM employees took affirmative steps to conceal such alterations from the Vermont Agency of Transportation. As a result of the alleged cover-up, VTrans unwittingly paid JAM for deficient bridge work and in turn presented a number of false claims to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for the reimbursement of the federal share of amounts paid to JAM.
In cooperation with federal and state authorities, JAM has since replaced the allegedly deficient bridge components at its own cost and under the supervision of VTrans inspectors. JAM has also terminated its employment of two employees who allegedly directed the alleged scheme.
“As exemplified by this settlement, contractors who cut corners on taxpayer-funded projects will face serious consequences,” said Acting United States Attorney Eugenia A.P. Cowles. “We will not hesitate to aggressively pursue and hold accountable those who knowingly or recklessly bill the government for faulty goods or services, particularly where public safety is a concern.”
“This investigation demonstrates how to not conduct business on public infrastructure projects in the United States. The Office of Inspector General is committed to investigating fraudulent acts and the individuals who commit them,” said Todd Damiani, regional Special Agent-in-Charge of the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (OIG). “We encourage anyone who may have information about fraud affecting taxpayer dollars on public transportation projects to come forward and report it.”
Vermont Secretary of Transportation Joe Flynn said that JAM senior management cooperated with the investigation.”
Under the terms of the settlement agreement entered into by the United States, VTrans, JAM and Boyden, the settlement constitutes neither an admission of liability by JAM or Boyden nor a concession by the United States or the state of Vermont that the claims asserted are not well founded. 

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