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Long IslandCrime

Hicksville contractor padded its hours for state public-works projects, attorney general says

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during

New York Attorney General Letitia James speaks during a press conference in New York City, on June 11, 2019. Credit: Getty Images/Drew Angerer

New York has recovered $1.875 million — $1.658 million of which will go back into state coffers — from a Hicksville-based government contractor that skimmed funds from state public works projects, Attorney General Letitia James announced Friday.

James said the contractor, V.J. Associates, "padded hours" to bilk state taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars while performing as subcontractors on projects for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and New York City's School Construction Authority, as well as other government entities in New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts.

Between Jan. 1, 2013, and Aug. 29, 2018, V.J. Associates "submitted false bills to the prime contractors on certain time-and-expense public works projects" where its employees worked from a company office instead of on-site government offices, according to a statement released by the attorney general's office.

The attorney general's office said V.J. Associates sought payment for hours employees worked on "unrelated, fixed-fee projects" and hours its employees spent performing administrative tasks unrelated to the projects for which they were billing— hours, the attorney general said, that were "excessive and unnecessary."

The overbilling came to light, James said, when a whistleblower filed a so-called "qui tam" complaint under the New York False Claims Act, the Federal False Claims Act and similar statutes in New Jersey and Massachusetts.

As part of the agreement recovering the more than $1.8 million, James said V.J. Associates admitted to submitting false bills and agreed to be barred from submitting bids or being awarded any public-work contracts with the state or with any New York municipality or public body for a period of five years.

In a statement issued Friday, James said: "We demand contractors taking on public works projects in the state of New York and billing our state to act with the highest levels of honesty. ... New Yorkers can always rely on my office to fight to protect their tax dollars."

V.J. Associates did not return a call for comment.

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