A former board member of the Idaho Public Works Contractors License Board who also had her own contracting company has pleaded guilty to fraud in obtaining government contracts.
Lisa Hatch’s company, Construction Service Corporation Inc. (CSC), has been fined $65,000 and sentenced to three years of probation after Hatch pleaded guilty in federal court on behalf of the company, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson said.
Hatch admitted that her company had defrauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a $274,283 contract for roofing work to be performed at a research facility in Corvallis, OR. The contract was awarded to the company on the basis that it was an eligible HUBZone entity, when in fact it was not, according to court documents.
Hatch's company fraudulently obtained a government contract worth nearly $275,000 authorities said.
Hatch is sole shareholder and director of the company. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday (Jan. 2).
Contractor, Licensing Official
Hatch’s company was sentenced in June. She pleaded guilty March 28 to wire fraud and making a false statement to the government.
According to Hatch’s LinkedIn profile, she owned CSC from January 2002 to June 2012. Hatch described the company as “a Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractor specializing in Government and Commercial Projects.”
From January 2009 to September 2011, Hatch was also a board member of the Idaho Public Works Contractors License Board, which is under the jurisdiction of the state’s Division of Building Safety.
The board's mission, according to its website, is to ensure "that those performing public works construction in Idaho have the financial wherewithal and technical knowledge and expertise to properly perform in a workman-like manner."
For two and a half years, Hatch served on the Idaho Public Works Contractors License Board, whose mission is to ensure that public works contractors are "qualified and properly licensed." She was also a contractor at the time.
"This is done by making sure that all contractors and construction managers performing public works construction in the state are qualified and properly licensed under Idaho’s licensing laws for public works construction."
Hatch’s LinkedIn profile lists her current occupation as “Volunteer Tour Guide” at the World Center for Birds of Prey.
The U.S. Small Business Administration’s HUBZone program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal contract opportunities.
Hatch’s company admitted making false statements to the SBA concerning its eligibility for HUBZone contracts.
“Construction Service Corporation violated the public trust,” Olson said in a news release. “By falsely representing its eligibility for a federal contracting preference, this defendant obtained federal funds that should have gone to a contractor that was actually prioritizing economic development in underserved areas.”
Surplus Property Fraud
Construction Service Corporation also pleaded guilty to defrauding the U.S. General Services Administration in relation to the Federal Surplus Property Program. That program allows municipalities, schools, emergency services and nonprofit organizations to buy surplus federal equipment and supplies at a reduced price.
As an entity qualified under the SBA’s 8(a) program, Hatch’s company was eligible to acquire federal surplus equipment. The corporation “admitted to transferring surplus property to an individual who was not eligible to acquire surplus property,” the Justice Department said. The agency did not say what property was transferred, or to whom.
At sentencing, Chief U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill called the company’s fraud “a serious matter.”
“The programs were intended to promote economic activity in disadvantaged areas,” Winmill said. “The crime undermines confidence in these important public programs.”
And SBA Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson said, “Federal contracts should never be awarded to persons who lie in order to claim eligibility for contracts intended for small businesses.
“Companies who lie in order to claim eligibility for set-aside contracts will be identified and prosecuted for their actions.”