Florida "special district" pays $15 million to settle False Claims Act allegations

by Ben Vernia | November 25th, 2012

On November 20, the Department of Justice announced that the Florida Technological Research and Development Authority has agreed to pay $15 million to settle claims that it defrauded NASA and the Department of Commerce. According to DOJ’s press release:

The Technological Research and Development Authority (TRDA) has agreed to pay $15 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act in connection with grants from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Economic Development Administration (EDA) of the Department of Commerce, the Justice Department announced today. TRDA, which was created by the Florida legislature as a special district, owns and operates a system of incubator facilities to nurture small businesses by providing low-rent office space and business development assistance.

TRDA and the Melbourne Airport Authority entered into an agreement to use NASA and EDA grant funds to construct an office building at the airport to be used as TRDA’s headquarters and an incubator facility. In a lawsuit filed against TRDA, the United States alleged that construction of the office building was outside the scope of the NASA grants awarded to TRDA and contrary to the terms of the EDA grant awarded jointly to TRDA and the airport authority, which prohibited combining funds from more than one federal agency for the project. Under the terms of a consent judgment executed by TRDA, the special district has agreed to settle these allegations, and to wind down its operations.

Relatedly, the Melbourne International Airport and its governing body, the Melbourne Airport Authority, have agreed to pay the United States $4 million to resolve alleged False Claims Act violations based on the same events described in the government’s lawsuit against TRDA.

The case was apparently launched by NASA’s inspector general, and not as a whistleblower action.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

Recent Comments