A company that provides heat to towns, school districts, prisons and other entities was prominently spotlighted recently for its corporate activities and involvement in the communities it serves.
And not in a good way.
In fact, a Hudson Valley fuel supplier just achieved material notoriety for reportedly being the first company ever to suffer civil sanctions under New York’s False Claims Act and thereafter be convicted on criminal charges.
Bottini Fuel’s conduct – described as “a brazen scheme” by authorities – was brought to light by a whistleblower with inside knowledge of the company’s unlawful billings to customers. Bottini’s wrongdoing extended over a 10 year-plus period, and would likely have persisted absent the whistleblowers’ involvement.
State officials are thankful that the individual came forward. New York Attorney General Barbara D. Underwood recently stated in the wake of Bottini’s guilty plea in criminal court that, “We are grateful to the whistleblower who helped bring this illegal conduct to light.”
The civil and criminal probes focused on Bottini’s management of customers’ overpayments. Rather than refunding those amounts or applying them to subsequent billings, the company deleted them. It then transferred the surplus into “dummy” accounts and subsequently deposited them into the accounts of Bottini insiders, friends and family members.
Bottini is now on the hook for its misconduct in a big way. The company has been ordered to pay back more than $3.2 million in restitution to defrauded victims. The whistleblower will receive nearly $500,000 for reporting the fraud.
Questions or concerns regarding whistleblower reporting and recovery entitlements in fraud matters can be directed to consumer fraud attorneys at the Connecticut law firm of Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller & Shah. Our firm has a national profile and demonstrated history of proven performance in cases involving fraud matters and whistleblower settlements. For more information contact us online or call 877-891-9880.