Criminal investigations – resulting in some historic convictions – have concluded into fraud allegations among Savannah River Site contractors about misuse of federal money under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, better known as the stimulus package.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Columbia announced the end of the investigation today. The office worked with the Department of Energy’s Office of Investigations since 2009 to obtain what it said in a news release were the first criminal convictions and the first civil settlements related to stimulus fraud.
The investigation centered on contractors hired using ARRA money by Savannah River Site’s operators to handle nuclear waste cleanup projects. The Department of Energy’s inspectors discovered false claims from the contractors for per diem payments. Individual claims were small, but added up to millions of dollars over time.
"This investigation sends a clear message that dispels any belief that "small dollar" frauds against the United States may be committed with impunity," U.S. Attorney Bill Nettles said.
In all, five criminal convictions have resulted from the investigation. $1.9 million in fines has been paid by the contractors and $700,000 in ARRA funding has been recovered, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.