Skip to main content

Burlington County Construction Firm to Pay $1.5M to Resolve Joint State, Federal False Claims Action

By kcora on
Burlington County

A Southampton construction company will pay $1.5 million to resolve allegations that it committed multiple False Claims Act violations by contracting for public construction jobs despite paying its workers a lower hourly wage than required under state and federal law, U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito and New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced today.

Officials said the settlement resolves a joint state and federal investigation of Ranco Construction’s labor practices conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the New Jersey Attorney General. The investigation began after a former Ranco employee filed a federal qui tam, or “whistle-blower,” lawsuit against the company.

In that lawsuit, the relator claimed that Ranco routinely entered into construction contracts with various state and federal entities and certified to the government that its employees were paid hourly wage rates set under federal and New Jersey prevailing wage laws.

The relator alleged, however, that Ranco systematically underpaid several of its workers and then falsified company payroll records to disguise the conduct. The relator worked for Ranco for a total of nine years – first as a laborer and then as an electrician – and left the company in 2016. He alleged in his lawsuit that Ranco forced him out for objecting to the company’s allegedly unlawful practices.

According to authorities, the relator in the underlying qui tam will receive more than $150,000 as his statutory share of the recovery and to resolve his employment based claims in accordance with the False Claims Act. The civil lawsuit was filed in the District of New Jersey and is captioned United States ex rel. Robert Kleinow and the State of New Jersey ex rel. Robert Kleinow and Robert Kleinow individually v. Ranco Construction, Civ. Action No. 15-7278.

The civil settlement is not an admission of liability or improper conduct by Ranco.