Contractors Agree to Pay $273,100 Over Failure to Deliver Telescope to the Air Force


The U.S. Department of Justice has reached a $273,100 settlement agreement with Hart Scientific Consulting International LLC (“Hart Scientific”) and Composite Mirror Applications, Inc. (“CMA”) over allegations of false claims related to the procurement of a telescope for the Air Force Research Laboratory (“AFRL”).

AFRL contracted with Hart Scientific to acquire the telescope for $250,000 as part of an ongoing research project coordinated through the Small Business Administration’s Small Business Innovation Research program. In turn, Hart Scientific contracted with CMA in December of 2015 to manufacture and deliver the telescope to AFRL. CMA commenced work on the telescope in January of 2016, and provided a 5-month timeline for delivery to the Government. AFRL paid the contractors the $250,000 total amount in monthly installments between January and June of 2016.

In April of 2017, months after the 5-month delivery timeline had passed, CMA continued to experience problems fabricating the telescope’s mirrors, and demanded an additional $13,200, above and beyond the $250,000 price tag agreed upon by the parties. AFRL provided the additional funds, but as the contract came to a close at the end of May 2017, the telescope was not ready for use by the Air Force and was not delivered or leased to the Air Force. Despite failing to deliver the telescope, Hart Scientific claimed in the contract’s final report that the telescope was “leased to the Air Force.”

The United States alleges that the contractors violated the False Claims Act by submitting demands for the monthly installment payments, despite knowing that the telescope would not be delivered in accordance with the applicable contract terms.

To resolve the allegations, Hart Scientific and CMA agreed to pay a total of $273,100 to the U.S. government, with Hart Scientific and CMA jointly responsible for $259,900 and CMA responsible for $13,200.

U.S. Attorney Alexander M.M. Uballez and the Department of the Air Force, Office of the Deputy General Counsel, made the announcement.

The government’s investigations were led by Assistant United States Attorney Sean M. Cunniff and Auditor Julie Chappell and criminal investigators from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Office of Procurement Fraud Detachment 3.

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