A Virginia-based consulting group and its president and majority owner agreed to a $4.8 million settlement with respect to allegations that they paid kickbacks, announced Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Sage Consulting Group, Inc. (Sage), a federal government contractor located in Vienna, specializes in providing information technology services to the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Robert Pleghardt, of Vienna, is the President and 99.5% owner of Sage. Sage and Pleghardt agreed to pay $4.8 million to settle allegations that they paid kickbacks to companies certified by the Small Business Administration (SBA) as 8(a) small businesses, which are owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged citizens, in order to obtain subcontracts on 8(a) set-aside contracts. According to the United States’ allegations, Sage and Pleghardt falsely represented to government agencies that the 8(a) certified companies would be performing at least 50% of the work on these contracts when, in fact, Sage performed 100% of the work.
The United States alleged that Wete and Company, Inc. (Wete), formerly an 8(a) certified company, agreed to subcontract work on 8(a) set-aside contracts and task orders for the Department of Defense Education Activity (DODEA) to Sage in exchange for an hourly fee paid by Sage to Wete for every hour of work Wete subcontracted to Sage. The United States also alleged that Pleghardt falsely represented, in a proposal submitted to DODEA, that Wete employees would be working on a task order when he knew that all the work on the task order would, in fact, be performed by Sage employees.