Air Industries Corporation (AIC), a California based aerospace parts manufacturer, has paid the United States $2.7 million to resolve allegations that it falsely certified it had performed required inspections on aerospace parts used in military aircraft, spacecraft and missiles used by the Department of Defense. The whistleblower who originally filed the case will receive $621,000. The United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California made the announcement on November 4, 2016.
The lawsuit was originally filed under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act by an employee of AIC. The government then intervened in the suit and filed its own complaint alleging that AIC, who manufacturers bolts, screws and aerospace fasteners, falsely certified that it had performed certain testing on its aerospace parts when in fact it did not perform the required tests. These tests included magnetic particle inspections and liquid penetrant inspections. The parts manufactured by AIC were sold to major aerospace contractors, who then used the parts in the manufacture of aircraft and other equipment sold to the United States.
The whistleblower or “qui tam” provisions of the False Claims Act allows private citizens with knowledge of fraud against the government to file a lawsuit on behalf of the United States. Under the False Claims Act the government can recover three times the amount of money taken by fraud as well as civil penalties for each false claim made by the defendants. The whistleblower who originally filed the suit is entitled to 15-30 percent of the money the government recovers plus their attorney’s fees. The whistleblower in this case will receive $621,000.
“Every company that does business with the United States has a duty and responsibility to honor it contracts, especially in ensuring equipment produced is safe and suitable for use,” said United States Attorney Eileen M. Decker. “The Department of Justice is committed to protecting investments made by taxpayers in contracts with private entities, especially when it comes to the purchase of equipment used in our national defense.”