TriMark USA has agreed to pay $48.5 million to resolve allegations that its subsidiaries, TriMark Gill Marketing and Gill Group Inc., improperly manipulated federal small business set-aside contracts around the country, per an announcement from Carla B. Freedman, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of New York, and Vanessa R. Waldref, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Washington. A former TriMark executive in charge of the company’s government business, Kimberley Rimsza, agreed to pay an additional $100,000 as an individual civil penalty for her conduct in connection with these allegations.
The full announcement is available here.
TriMark, which has fully cooperated in the United States’ investigation, has taken “comprehensive measures and implemented enhanced controls” to prevent the recurrence of similar conduct, including personnel changes, and implementing revised compliance procedures and training programs, per a release announcing the settlement.
Federal government contracts may be reserved, or set aside, for various categories of small businesses, such that only eligible small businesses in a particular socioeconomic category are eligible to bid on, receive, and perform the contracts. TriMark provides kitchen and foodservice equipment to government customers around the world, including in the Northern District of New York and the Eastern District of Washington. As part of the settlement agreement, TriMark and Rimsza admitted to and accepted responsibility for their conduct in connection with set-aside contracts that, because of their actions, resulted in federal agencies improperly awarding government set-aside contracts between 2011 and 2021 to three small businesses with which TriMark worked.
As part of the Settlement Agreement, TriMark admitted that TriMark Gill Marketing identified federal set-aside contract opportunities for the small businesses to bid on using their set-aside status; instructed them regarding how to prepare their bids and what prices to propose; “ghostwrote” emails for those companies to send to government officials to make it appear as though the small businesses were performing work that TriMark Gill Marketing was performing; and affirmatively concealed TriMark Gill Marketing’s involvement in the contract.
The settlement was the result of a joint investigation conducted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of New York; the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Washington; the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Inspector General, Spokane and Buffalo Resident Agencies; the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, Syracuse Post of Duty; the General Services Administration Office of Inspector General, New York Field Investigations Office; the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General, New York Field Office; the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Procurement Fraud Detachment 6 Rome, New York; the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Division, Syracuse Fraud Branch Office; and the Small Business Administration, Office of Inspector General, Seattle Field Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Adam J. Katz of the Northern District of New York and Dan Fruchter and Tyler H.L. Tornabene of the Eastern District of Washington handled this matter on behalf of the United States.