Hartland businessman, Nicholas Rivecca, Sr., and his company, Sonag Ready Mix, have agreed to pay $629,732 to resolve allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by defrauding the United States Department of Transportation’s Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program.
The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program provides small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals a fair opportunity to compete for federally funded transportation contracts. At the time of the alleged fraud, Rivecca was an owner of Sonag Ready Mix, and Sonag Remedy Mix was not eligible to participate in the DBE program. The government alleges that Rivecca and others conspired to obtain fraudulently DBE certification for another entity, Nuvo Construction Company, Inc. Rivecca and others then used Nuvo’s improper DBE certification to obtain ready-mix concrete contracts based on the false representation that Nuvo provided ready-mix concrete independently when, in truth, Sonag Ready Mix and its employees performed almost all of the work. All of the profits from Nuvo’s ready-mix concrete contracts, moreover, passed through to Sonag Ready Mix (and, ultimately, to Rivecca and his co-owner).
In a related criminal case, Case No. 18-CR-64, Rivecca pleaded guilty to a criminal information charging him with conspiracy to use Nuvo’s DBE status to win government-funded contracts. This settlement resolves related civil allegations that Rivecca and Sonag Ready Mix caused the submission of false claims to the government and thus improperly obtained government funds. As a result of the settlement, the federal government will receive $629,732.