In another example of the government’s efforts to root out fraud in government procurement programs, on July 5, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton sentenced Virginia businessman, Tarsem Singh, to 15 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release for conspiracy to commit major fraud on the United States. In December of 2015, Singh pleaded guilty to executing a scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the General Services Administration (GSA) through fraudulent procurement of more than $8.5 million in federal government contracts through SBA’s 8(a) program. Created to help small, disadvantaged businesses engage in federal procurement, the 8(a) program requires that qualifying businesses are at least 51% owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged U.S. citizen.
From 2000 to 2009, Singh was the vice president of “Company A,” a construction company specializing in renovating and altering buildings. From 2000 through 2009, Company A was certified under the 8(a) program and lawfully received approximately $23 million in contracts from the GSA. The real trouble began in 2009, when Company A graduated from the 8(a) program and, on the same day, entered into a Mentor-Protégé Agreement with “Company B.” With monetary support and guidance from Company A, Company B was certified under the 8(a) program and was ultimately awarded 26 federal contracts under the program. According to the government’s calculations and Judge Walton’s Memorandum Opinion, the contracts awarded to Company B totaled more than $8.5 million.