A New Jersey woman has been arrested and charged with procurement fraud for allegedly falsely certifying that her company was a SDVOSB.
According to a Department of Justice press release, Miriam Friedman falsely claimed that her father-in-law, a retired veteran, owned and operated the business. According to the DOJ, Friedman’s father-in-law not only had minimal involvement in the business, but is not service-disabled.
The DOJ states that Friedman is the owner of Office Dimensions, Inc., a company that sells furniture and design services to federal and commercial customers. Friedman and her husband control the company’s daily operations. Neither Friedman nor her husband served in the military.
In 2009, Friedman self-certified in “a central registry for government contractors” (presumably, either the old CCR or the SBA’s DSBS system) that Office Dimensions was a SDVOSB. In the self-certification, Friedman allegedly claimed that her father-in-law owned and operated the business, even though he had minimal involvement and is not service-disabled.
After self-certifying, Office Dimensions bid upon and won SDVSOSB set-aside contracts. In 2010 and 2011, the VA paid Office Dimensions $1.2 million under those contracts.
Friedman is charged with wire fraud, punishable by a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, or twice the gross loss or gain caused by the offense.
As the press release points out, the DOJ’s allegations are just that–allegations. Friedman, like all criminal defendants, is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. However, if the allegations are correct, Friedman’s crime would be particularly egregious. This does not seem to be a case in which Friedman could have misunderstood the rules or mistakenly, but in good faith, believed her company qualified. If Friedman did what the DOJ says she did, she engaged in blatant SDVOSB fraud, and should be punished accordingly.