The U.S. Department of Transportation has a program – the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program – which encourages the use of minority and women owned businesses on federally-funded transportation projects. Contractors on these projects are required to make a good faith effort to meet DBE participation goals in order to receive federal monies.
TesTech, Inc.; Sherif Aziz; CESO Testing Technology, Inc., CESO International, LLC and CESO, Inc. (collectively CESO) and David and Sherry Oakes were accused of claiming DBE status for TesTech on highway and airport construction projects in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Kentucky. According to the government, TesTech was owned and controlled by CESO and the Oakes. CESO was not a DBE firm. The government contends that CESO and the Oakes falsely claimed that TesTech was owned by Aziz so that TesTech could qualify as a minority-owned business which could take part in the DBE program. TesTech, Aziz, CESO and the Oakes have agreed to pay $2,883,947 to settle these allegations.
This matter was originally brought to light by Ryan Parker, a former TesTech employee. Mr. Parker will receive $562,370 from the settlement in accordance with a provision in the False Claims Act which is designed to reward whistleblowers.
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