The owner of a California construction company that worked on cabins and campgrounds at the Grand Canyon and Lake Mead must pay a hefty $2.3 million fine after losing a fraud case, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Phoenix announced today. Ernest Robert McFarland, Jr., 68, conned the government out of only a few hundred thou, but he's being slammed with stiff penalties under the False Claims Act, which calls for treble damages and other fines.
McFarland's Mission Viejo, California, company, Pacific General Inc.,, did construction work for the National Park Service in the early 2000s, contracting with the federal Interior Department and General Services Administration. The Lake Mead National Recreation Area and both north and south rims of the Grand Canyon needed new buildings, some old cabins and campsites renovated, plus other tasks.
A federal complaint against McFarland (see below) says the Florida resident had been short-changing his subcontractors while keeping the government payouts for himself. He also submitted false claims for surety bonds he didn't actually obtain.