The FBI raided the offices of a Williamson County construction company as part of an ongoing investigation into nine Tennessee Department of Transportation and two Metro Nashville Airport Authority contracts, reports The Tennessean.
The agents seized payroll records, contract files, work orders and computer hard drives from the College Grove offices of G&M Associates. Jones Brothers, one of the largest road contractors in the Southeast, and two of its affiliate companies are implicated in the investigation, according to a search warrant.
Jones Brothers and the two affiliated companies, Mountain States Contractors and Hot Mix Asphalt, were allegedly involved in a scheme to fraudulently land government contracts intended for companies that promise to subcontract a certain percentage of the work to women- or minority-owned small businesses, the search warrant documents state.
The investigation is focused on the federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program, which is supposed to help jumpstart businesses owned by women and minorities. The government, which has been cracking down on procurement fraud, can recoup up to three times the contract amount and levy fines.
Mt. Juliet-based Jones Brothers, according to the warrant, named a minority-owned firm in its contract, but instead did work the subcontractor G&M Associates was supposed to do, even going as far as to cover the company logo on their trucks with the minority-owned contractor’s logo. According to the search warrant, the FBI has evidence that “the primary contractors obtained various contracts fraudulently, aided and abetted by G&M.” The FBI raid took place in May.
The federal investigation was prompted by a 2012 whistleblower lawsuit filed by a former employee of Jones Brothers, who said he was fired after raising concerns about fraudulent activity. A federal judge has given the government until June 1 to decide whether to intervene in the whistleblower suit and bring charges against Jones Brothers, its affiliated companies and G&M Associates.
A spokesman for Jones Brothers said the company has cooperated with the federal inquiry by providing hundreds of pages of documents, which the company says show there was no wrongdoing. G&M Associates referred questions to its attorney, who also denied the company had done anything wrong.