by Steven Koprince
A North Carolina couple is heading to prison after being convicted of defrauding the SDVOSB and 8(a) Programs.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Ricky Lanier was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison and his wife, Katrina Lanier, was sentenced to 30 months for their roles in a long-running scheme to defraud two of the government’s cornerstone socioeconomic contracting programs.
According to the DOJ press release, Ricky Lanier was the former owner of an 8(a) company. When his company graduated, Ricky Lanier apparently wasn’t satisfied with the ordinary routes that former 8(a) firms use to remain relevant in the 8(a) world, such as subcontracting to current 8(a) firms and/or becoming a mentor to an 8(a) firm under the SBA’s 8(a) mentor-protege program.
Instead, Mr. Lanier helped form a new company, Kylee Construction, which supposedly was owned and managed by a service-disabled veteran. In fact, the veteran (a friend of Ricky Lanier) was working for a government contractor in Afghanistan, and wasn’t involved in Kylee’s daily management and business operations.
The Laniers also used JMR Investments, a business owned by Ricky Lanier’s college roommate, to obtain 8(a) set-aside contracts. As was the case with Kylee, the Laniers misrepresented the former roommate’s level of involvement in the daily management and business operations of JMR.
If that wasn’t enough, “[t]he scheme also involved sub-contracting out all or almost all of the work on the contracts in violation of program requirements.” In other words, not only were Kylee and JML fraudulently obtaining set-aside contracts, they were also serving as illegal “pass-throughs.”
Over the years, Kylee Construction was awarded $5 million in government contracts and JMR was awarded $9 million. The Laniers themselves received almost $2 million in financial benefits from their fraudulent scheme.
People like the Laniers undermine the integrity of the set-aside programs and steal contracts from deserving SDVOSBs and 8(a) companies. Here’s hoping that the prison sentences handed down in this case will not only punish the Laniers for their fraud, but help convince other potential fraudsters that the risk just isn’t worth it.