United States v. Pecore

In 2000 the Tribe received funding under the Hazardous Fuels Reduction program, created by the Bureau of Indian Affairs to gradually reintroduce the beneficial aspects of fire into ecosystems such as densely-wooded forests. After obtaining BIA approval, the Tribe began HFR work in December 2000, and began invoicing BIA in 2001. Reports of diversions of funds prompted an inspection. Inspectors concluded that the invoices overstated the work done and that some of the work actually increased the risk of fire. A second inspection led to the conclusion that the defendants were submitting false invoices. After further investigation and failed settlement negotiations, the government filed a False Claims Act suit, 31 U.S.C. 3729-33, in 2007. After a nine-day trial, the defendants prevailed; they moved for attorney's fees under Equal Access to Justice Act, 28 U.S.C. 2412(d)(1)(A), or sanctions under Rule 37(c)(2). The district court denied both motions. The Seventh Circuit affirmed, acknowledging its discomfort with apparent "government overreaching." The government’s position throughout trial was substantially justified, so the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying the EAJA motion. View "United States v. Pecore" on Justia Law