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I-77 Lead Design Firm has Prior Record of Defrauding Taxpayers

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Defrauding the federal government, and in turn the United States taxpayers, out of tens of millions of dollars: not exactly the kind of record that instills confidence in the NC-DOT’s chosen design firm for the I-77 HOT lanes scheme.

Page 251 of the 923-page I-77 HOT lanes agreement names the Louis Berger Group, Inc. as the lead design firm for the project.

According to a 2010 article from McClatchy Newspapers, the Louis Berger Group holds the record for the largest fraud penalty ever to be paid out by a war-zone contractor. Evidence turned over by a whistle-blower revealed that the Louis Berger group, during the execution of federal contracts, had defrauded the government out of tens of millions of dollars by charging overhead costs and fees that were not actually performed in relation to the contract:

“A nearly $70 million fine announced Friday against one of the U.S. government’s largest Afghanistan contractors is an apparent record war-zone settlement, and it grew from a classic David vs. Goliath confrontation.

New Jersey-based Louis Berger Group, which has overseen the construction of roads, power plants and schools across Afghanistan, acknowledged that It had knowingly and systematically overcharged the U.S. government and agreed to pay $69.3 million in criminal and civil penalties.

… In 2006, Salomon went to law enforcement authorities with evidence — including CDs full of data — that the contractor had defrauded the government of millions in a complex accounting scheme that billed taxpayers for overhead and other costs that had nothing to do with its government contracts.

“Today I can affirm to those who told me the Louis Berger Group can get away with anything that they were wrong,” Salomon said in a statement through his attorneys. “To those who said, ‘If you cannot beat them, you have to join them,’ I say they were wrong, too.”

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