NoVa Company Padded Its Invoices on AV Equipment, Prosecutors Say
WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 2, 2023) — A Northern Virginia government contractor and its founder may owe taxpayers more than $37 million for defrauding the U.S. Department of Defense, according to federal prosecutors.
Instead of passing along discounts on audiovisual equipment to the Defense Department, as it had agreed to do, Innovative Technologies, Inc. added hidden markups and kept the difference, prosecutors claimed in a complaint that was filed last week.
The government’s intervention in the matter was revealed today when the case was unsealed at the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Lawyers for Humberto Irizarry, the whistleblower and former ITI employee who first drew prosecutors’ attention to the alleged fraud, welcomed the development.
Mr. Irizarry is represented by The Employment Law Group® law firm and Joseph Greenwald & Laake, PA. He filed his initial complaint against ITI under the federal False Claims Act in 2013; since then it has been under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
The FCA, signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, makes it illegal to claim payment from the federal government via deception. The law includes a “qui tam” provision that allows whistleblowers to file a complaint on behalf of the U.S. and — if they prevail — to receive a portion of any resulting settlement or judgment.
Under the terms of the FCA, Mr. Irizarry’s lawsuit remained sealed while prosecutors dug into his allegations. This summer the government decided to take the reins and pursue a federal jury trial against ITI and its founder, Mariano Martinez, who is accused of unjust enrichment in addition to fraud; the decision and resulting complaint became public today.
Mr. Irizarry, who was forced out of ITI in 2012 after raising concerns about the company’s dealings, will continue to be involved in the case.
“This vindication has been a long time coming for Bert,” said Janel Quinn, a principal of The Employment Law Group. “As the United States says in its complaint, Mr. Martinez begged him to ‘stick with the story’ and ignore a fraud on taxpayers. He refused, demanding honesty until Mr. Martinez shoved him toward the door. Then he assembled evidence to show to the authorities, and after a deep investigation the U.S. government is supporting his cause.”
“Whistleblowers need courage and patience, and Bert has shown a deep reservoir of both,” said Jay Holland, a principal of Joseph Greenwood & Laake. “Justice is worth the wait, and we’re grateful to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for its diligence in this case. FCA cases have a long fuse — this one longer than most — but Bert never lost faith. Now he moves forward with the United States at his side.”
Ms. Quinn and Mr. Holland worked on Mr. Irizarry’s case with Assistant U.S. Attorney Darrell C. Valdez of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.
Mr. Irizarry is not available for comment.
United States ex rel. Irizarry v. Innovative Technologies, Inc.
U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
Original complaint filed on May 14, 2013
U.S. complaint in partial intervention filed on Sept. 27, 2023 (available here)
About The Employment Law Group
The Employment Law Group® law firm represents whistleblowers and employees who stand up to wrongdoing in the workplace. Based in Washington, D.C., the firm takes cases nationwide.
About Joseph Greenwald & Laake
Joseph Greenwald & Laake represents people and businesses facing complex and high-stakes issues. The firm serves clients in Washington, D.C., and the suburban Maryland area.