A Nebraska man has pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering charges stemming from a SDVOSB “rent-a-vet” scheme under which an ineligible business received 45 SDVOSB contracts.
According to a Department of Justice press release, the man faces up to 24 months in prison and financial penalties. He and his companies also have been suspended from government contracting and face the likelihood of debarment.
The DOJ press release alleges that beginning in 2007, Ram Hingorani and his companies, Midwest Contracting Inc. and Midwest Paving Inc., engaged in SDVOSB fraud. According to the press release, Hingorani used the service disabled status of a business partner, Ronald Waugh, to qualify MCI as a SDVOSB. However, an investigation “revealed MCI was a pass-through and/or front company for Hingorani’s other businesses and that Waugh was simply a figurehead or ‘rent-a-vet’ who was being used for his SDV status.”
The government’s investigation concluded that Hingorani, a non-SDV, controlled MCI and caused MCI to falsely self-certify as a SDVOSB. As a result of the fraudulent self-certifications, MCI was awarded 45 set-aside and sole source contracts worth approximately $23.5 million.
Hingorani faces a prison term of up to 24 months, as well as financial penalties. Hingorani and his companies are currently suspended and face the prospect of debarment. Hingorani’s SDV business partner, Waugh, was initially charged in the case as well, but the government has agreed to drop those charges.
Because of Hingorani’s blatant SDVOSB fraud, legitimate SDVOSBs were deprived of more than $20 million in federal government contracts. When it comes time for sentencing, let’s hope that the judge throws the book at Hingorani–and that Hingorani’s time behind bars will help convince other potential fraudsters that SDVOSB crime doesn’t pay.