SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — A housing contractor that provides privatized military housing for U.S. servicemembers pleaded guilty to defrauding the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy, according to the Southern District of Georgia.
The Belfour Beatty Communities LLC (BBC) agreed to pay nearly $34 million in criminal fines, nearly $32 million in restitution to the U.S. military, serve three years of probation and participate in a three-year independent compliance monitor, says David H. Estes, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Georgia.
BBC is also separately slated to pay $35.2 million in civil restitution and penalties to the U.S. Estes said an investigation found misconduct at Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield and Fort Gordon in Augusta.
“Instead of promptly repairing housing for U.S. servicemembers as required, BBC lied about the repairs to pocket millions of dollars in performance bonuses,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco. “This pervasive fraud was a consequence of BBC’s broken corporate culture, which valued profit over the welfare of servicemembers. Today’s global resolution sends a clear message to companies that if they do not maintain adequate compliance programs, voluntarily self-disclose misconduct, and fully cooperate with the government, they will pay a price that outweighs the profits they once reaped.”
Court documents show BBC operated privatized military housing communities impacting thousands of service members across the nation. The housing communities were located at 21 Air Force, 16 Army and 18 Navy bases. BBC earned fees for the development and management of each community and the living allowances from service members were paid to them, Estes says.
“The men and women who live in our nation’s military housing, including those at Fort Stewart and Fort Gordon, deserve prompt and professional maintenance service from their housing providers,” Estes said. “That BBC would not only fail to deliver this service, but also falsify information to line their own pockets is despicable. Our office will work tirelessly with our law enforcement partners, and other components of the Department of Justice, to make sure those who provide subpar service to the military and lie about it are held accountable.”
Estes said from 2013 to 2019 BBC employees falsely claimed the housing company had surpassed performance goals — including maintenance and resident satisfaction at multiple housing projects. The employees changed data in the property management software, destroying and falsifying comments made by residents to inflate metrics. The service branches then paid the unearned performance incentive fees, Estes said.
“In defrauding our country’s military services, BBC took advantage of their unique position as a military housing provider and put greed and personal profit above our servicemembers,” says FBI Deputy Director Paul M. Abbate. “Today’s guilty plea reaffirms the FBI, along with our partners, are committed to preventing such disgraceful crimes and will work tirelessly to bring those who engage in this type of crime to justice.”
Court documents say that caused maintenance issues to delay and go unresolved.
“The defendants’ greed undermined a program designed to protect servicemembers’ homes while they courageously fight to protect our homeland,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Robert J. Troester for the Western District of Oklahoma. “Servicemembers and their families deserve better. The U.S. Attorney’s Office is committed to working with our law enforcement partners to protect our military community from fraudulent conduct of all kinds, particularly the integrity of DoD housing programs.”
“Balfour’s guilty plea is progress toward accountability for the mistreatment of families housed at Ft. Gordon, but there is more work to be done,” Sen. Ossoff said. “As I pledged this summer, I will continue pursuing every avenue available to ensure accountability where our military families have been subjected to unsafe, unhealthy, low-quality housing. Our heroes and their families deserve the best.”