CB&I AREVA MOX Services and a former subcontractor say they should not have to pay the $19.2 million the United States is seeking in a lawsuit. In separate documents filed in federal court, the companies said they had no knowledge of alleged schemes to defraud the government while working at the now-canceled plutonium recycling facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.
In its April 22 filing, MOX Services asked U.S. District Judge Terry Wooten to dismiss the case, adding that the Justice Department is trying to hold the company accountable for the actions of its subcontractor.
Separately, subcontractor Wise Services said in its April 19 filing that the company cannot be held responsible for the actions of a “rogue employee,” Phillip Thompson, who admitted in 2017 to defrauding the government in a separate Justice Department prosecution. Thompson is currently serving a 23-month prison sentence.
The Justice Department sued Wise and MOX Services on Feb. 14, claiming the two companies worked together to carry out multiple scams that resulted in $6.4 million in fraudulent claims from 2008 to 2016 to the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
The lawsuit states that these claims were made while MOX Services built the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF), which was supposed to convert weapon-usable plutonium into commercial nuclear fuel. The Energy Department terminated the project in October 2018.
Ohio-based Wise served as a subcontractor, providing construction labor services to MOX Services. The company allegedly submitted fraudulent claims for nonexistent labor services that were mixed in with real invoices, which MOX Services then knowingly forwarded to the NNSA. In return, Thompson kicked back millions of dollars to MOX Services personnel through liquid cash, as well as perks such as NASCAR and Masters Tournament golf tickets, and guns and hunting equipment.