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On June 23, 2022, a federal grand jury returned an indictment against Army contractor Envistacom LLC and two of its executives alleging participation in a fraudulent scheme that deprived the federal government of competition and making false representations to the government in furtherance of the conspiracy. The indictment also charged the executive as a co-conspirator, and asserts the conspirators coordinated in the preparation of so-called “competitive quotes” submitted in connection with 8(a) set aside contracts. The quotes were allegedly fraudulently inflated in order to all but guarantee the government customer would sole source the award to the conspirators’ pre-determined bidder. This indictment represents the fruits of yet another investigation by the Department of Justice’s Procurement Collusion Strike Force (“PCSF”).

According to the indictment, the defendants conspired to prepare and secure “sham” pricing quotes from third-party companies that were intentionally higher than Envistacom’s proposals to ensure that the government issued sole source awards to Envistacom. Further, the defendants allegedly coordinated with an unnamed government employee who acted as a co-conspirator and assisted in preparing and submitting Independent Government Cost Estimates (“IGCE”) for certain set aside contracts to ensure that the pre-determined bidder’s proposal would be lower than the IGCEs. Finally, the indictment alleges that the defendants made “false statements, representations, and material omissions to federal government contracting officials” about the IGCEs being “legitimate” and the sham quotes being “competitive.”

The investigation was the result of cross-agency partnership and included investigators from the Department of Justice Antitrust Division, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Division Major Procurement Fraud Field Office, and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service. This collaboration is a hallmark of the PCSF, which includes efforts undertaken to further arm contracting officers to identify red flags of anticompetitive behavior.

Notably, the Envistacom indictment does not include a Sherman Act antitrust count. And it continues the recent trend of the PCSF bringing cases alleging more sophisticated schemes. Since the establishment of the strike force in November 2019, the PCSF has begun pursuing more complex cases, and we anticipate announcements of more such cases in the coming months as the PCSF’s efforts continue to gain traction.

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Photo of Stephen M. Byers Stephen M. Byers

Stephen M. Byers is a partner in the firm’s White Collar & Regulatory Enforcement Group and serves on the group’s steering committee. He is also a member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group and E-Discovery & Information Management Group. Mr. Byers’s practice involves…

Stephen M. Byers is a partner in the firm’s White Collar & Regulatory Enforcement Group and serves on the group’s steering committee. He is also a member of the firm’s Government Contracts Group and E-Discovery & Information Management Group. Mr. Byers’s practice involves counseling and representation of corporate and individual clients in all phases of white collar criminal and related civil matters, including: internal corporate investigations; federal grand jury, inspector general, civil enforcement and congressional investigations; and trials and appeals.

Mr. Byers’s practice focuses on matters involving procurement fraud, health care fraud and abuse, trade secrets theft, foreign bribery, computer crimes and cybersecurity, and antitrust conspiracies. He has extensive experience with the federal False Claims Act and qui tam litigation, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Economic Espionage Act, and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. In addition to defense of government investigations and prosecutions, Mr. Byers has represented corporate victims of trade secrets theft, cybercrime, and other offenses. For example, he represented a Fortune 100 U.S. company in parallel civil and criminal proceedings that resulted in a $275 million criminal restitution order against a foreign competitor upon its conviction for trade secrets theft.

Photo of Alexis DeBernardis Alexis DeBernardis

Alexis Victoria DeBernardis is a counsel in the Washington, D.C. office. She is a member of the Antitrust & Competition Group, where her practice focuses on representing corporate clients in a wide range of antitrust issues, including competitor collaborations, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures…

Alexis Victoria DeBernardis is a counsel in the Washington, D.C. office. She is a member of the Antitrust & Competition Group, where her practice focuses on representing corporate clients in a wide range of antitrust issues, including competitor collaborations, mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, and issues related to the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act. Her experience covers several industries, in particular, healthcare providers and payors, aerospace and defense, telecommunications, and financial services.

Photo of Lyndsay Gorton Lyndsay Gorton

Lyndsay Gorton is a Government Contracts counsel in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. Her practice focuses on government contracts litigation and counseling, including government investigations, fraud matters under the False Claims Act, bid protests, and federal and state regulatory compliance. In addition…

Lyndsay Gorton is a Government Contracts counsel in Crowell & Moring’s Washington, D.C. office. Her practice focuses on government contracts litigation and counseling, including government investigations, fraud matters under the False Claims Act, bid protests, and federal and state regulatory compliance. In addition to her primary government contracts practice, Lyndsay has federal court litigation experience representing a broad variety of clients in commercial litigation matters, and has led and managed teams at every stage of litigation, including discovery, dispositive motion practice, trial, and settlement. She also uses her litigation experience to assist her clients with internal investigations, risk management, and compliance.

Photo of Cherie Owen Cherie Owen

Cherie Owen is a senior counsel in the Government Contracts group. Cherie counsels and represents clients in a wide array of government contracts issues, with a focus on bid protests at the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the United States Court…

Cherie Owen is a senior counsel in the Government Contracts group. Cherie counsels and represents clients in a wide array of government contracts issues, with a focus on bid protests at the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) and the United States Court of Federal Claims. As a former GAO bid protest hearing officer, she resolved some of the most challenging bid protests on procurements ranging from thousands to billions of dollars involving solicitation challenges, proposal evaluation challenges, organizational conflicts of interest, Procurement Integrity Act violations, affirmative responsibility determinations, the conduct of discussions, and competitive range determinations. In this role, Cherie held numerous bid protest hearings. At GAO she handled more than 600 protests and issued more than 500 decisions.

Photo of Agustin D. Orozco Agustin D. Orozco

Agustin D. Orozco is a partner in the Los Angeles office and is a member of the firm’s White Collar & Regulatory Enforcement and Government Contracts groups. As a former federal prosecutor, Agustin is a skilled trial lawyer focused on directing complex white…

Agustin D. Orozco is a partner in the Los Angeles office and is a member of the firm’s White Collar & Regulatory Enforcement and Government Contracts groups. As a former federal prosecutor, Agustin is a skilled trial lawyer focused on directing complex white collar cases and investigations, handling contentious and sophisticated pretrial litigation, and successfully proving highly difficult cases at trial. Agustin’s background as a federal prosecutor and government contracts attorney leaves him uniquely situated to help clients where government contracts and white collar intersect.

Agustin represents clients in criminal and civil government investigations and enforcement actions. He also represents and counsels clients on matters involving federal, state, and local government contracts. Agustin has litigated civil False Claims Act (FCA) matters and other government contracts issues, such as disputes, claims, and terminations. He is also experienced in matters involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including conducting investigations abroad and counseling clients on compliance issues.