RALEIGH – Robert J. Higdon, Jr., the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, announces that the United States has filed a civil complaint alleging False Claims Act violations committed by BJ Trucking Company, Inc., a former Highway Contract Route supplier for the United States Postal Service. The complaint also alleges False Claims Act violations against two of the company’s principals, Douglas Cline and his son Chad Cline, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent transfers allegedly made to hide money from the federal government.
The complaint alleges that BJ Trucking Company and the Clines defrauded the United States by systematically misusing federal funds for unauthorized fuel purchases from 2009 to 2015. In some instances, BJ Trucking Company allegedly used federal money to buy fuel for commercial, rather than Postal, trucking routes, including repeated alleged purchases in states where BJ Trucking Company had no Postal routes at all. In other instances, the company allegedly spent federal funds over 1,300 times on unleaded (rather than diesel) fuel purchases that the United States believes were for unauthorized personal vehicles.
The complaint also alleges that, after the Postal Service notified BJ Trucking Company and the Clines that they owed the United States over $3 million, the company transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Clines, their family members, and related entities in order to conceal the funds from federal authorities. Perhaps worse, in September and October 2015, Chad Cline allegedly negotiated with the Postal Service for the release of over $700,000, money ostensibly necessary for BJ Trucking Company to continue operating without defaulting on its Postal Service contracts. Approximately seven days after the federal government disbursed those funds, however, BJ Trucking Company allegedly defaulted on the contracts, continued transferring thousands of dollars to the Cline family and related entities, and later ceased operations.
The federal False Claims Act allows the United States to recover triple the money falsely obtained, substantial penalties for each false claim submitted, and investigative costs. BJ Trucking Company, Douglas Cline, and Chad Cline can also be held liable for the fraudulent transfers with which they were involved, and the United States can recover from their individual assets.
The claims and allegations in the United States’ civil complaint are merely accusations. The defendants are presumed not liable unless and until the United States proves liability in a court of law.
The case is being investigated by the United States Postal Inspection Service. Assistant United States Attorney Neal I. Fowler represents the government in this matter.