Two men who prosecutors claim bilked the government out of $23.4 million in construction contracts meant for disabled veterans could face prison if convicted in a trial starting on Monday of this week in Des Moines.
Ram Hingorani and Ronald Waugh pleaded not guilty last year to 32 counts of fraud and money laundering connected to bids that their company, Midwest Contracting, made for projects for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Des Moines, as well as work at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska.
The pair’s alleged scheme is similar to others across the United States that have used so-called pass-through companies, federal prosecutors wrote in the indictment. Defense attorneys, however, say the VA was happy with the company’s work and there was no intent to harm the government.
Midwest Contracting won contracts for 45 projects designated for businesses owned by disabled veterans, according to the federal indictment. Congress in 1999 established an annual goal that 3 percent of government contracts across all departments would go to such businesses.
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