Prominent Washington Township (Ohio) developers David C. and Shery Oakes, along with their former business partner Sherif Aziz, have agreed to pay the U.S. government nearly $2.9 million to settle civil claims that they defrauded the government by making false statements about a civil engineering company called TesTech to obtain millions of dollars in federally funded transportation contracts.
Federal prosecutors allege the Oakeses and Aziz submitted false claims for payment for airport and highway projects in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Michigan from April 2005 to June 2009. They did it, prosecutors say, by holding out Aziz as TesTech’s owner and president to qualify for a federal minority set-aside program while the company actually was owned and controlled by the millionaire Oakeses.
The Oakeses’ attorney, David N. Reed of Dayton, said the couple would have no comment. David Oakes owns a civil engineering company called CESO Inc. and Shery Oakes is owner of luxury home builder Design Homes and Development Co. Their company and TesTech are all located in Washington Twp. Aziz’s attorney, William E. Hunt of Cincinnati, did not return a phone call seeking comment.
In a settlement agreement released to the Dayton Daily News on Thursday by federal officials, the Oakeses and Aziz admit no liability and the government reserves its right to bring criminal charges. The parties agree that the government has a valid claim against the defendants for more than $5 million, and the government can go after the full amount if the defendants try to avoid their obligation to pay the settlement amount of $2,883,946.30.
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