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CAMBRIDGE DISTRIBUTOR CHARGED WITH DEFRAUDING GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION

 CAMBRIDGE DISTRIBUTOR CHARGED WITH DEFRAUDING
 GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION
 BOSTON, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Criminal charges were filed today against a Cambridge distributor of laboratory equipment for defrauding the General Services Administration during the negotiation of a three million dollar government contract. In a related civil agreement, this distributor agreed to pay $1,500,000 to the U.S. Treasury in settlement of claims that it defrauded that agency during the negotiation of two government contracts having a combined worth of over five million dollars.
 U.S. Attorney A. John Pappalardo announced today the filing of a one count Information charging Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc., (Bio-Rad) with making a false statement during the negotiation of a procurement contract with the General Services Administration (GSA), in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1001. Bio-Rad is a publicly held corporation with its headquarters located in Hercules, Calif., and trades on the American Stock Exchange. Its Digilab Division (Digilab) maintains offices at 237 Putnam St., Cambridge, Mass. Digilab is principally engaged in the manufacture and sale of laboratory equipment, including the sale of such equipment to various agencies of the United States under contracts and prices negotiated by the GSA.
 Pappalardo also announced that Biorad has entered into an agreement whereby it will pay to the United States $1,500,000, in restitution and penalties, to settle a related civil matter. In that matter the government alleged that the company defrauded GSA during the negotiation and administration of two procurement contracts, in effect during the period 1984 through 1990, having a combined value of more than five million dollars. The civil matter was based upon the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C. Sections 3729 et seq., which permits the government to recover up to three times the amount it lost as the result of a contractor's fraud, plus a civil penalty of five to ten thousand dollars for each false claim submitted to the government for payment.
 The criminal Information charges that, in March 1987, Bio-Rad lied during the negotiation of a contract by telling the GSA that the price, for laboratory equipment, which Digilab was offering to the GSA was then Digilab's best price for that equipment, and that Digilab was not then offering a better price to any other customer. In fact, as described in the Factual Basis filed with the Information, Digilab was then offering other customers significantly higher discounts than those it was offering to the GSA. The maximum penalty for the offense charged in the Information is a $500,000 fine.
 This Information represents the third in a series of criminal charges which have been filed against Bio-Rad and former employees of that corporation for fraudulent activities concerning this contract. On May 28, 1992, Warren Howell, a former vice president and division manager of Bio-Rad, entered a plea of guilty in federal court to one count of mail fraud, for having intentionally withheld information from the GSA during the negotiation and performance of the contract. On March 5, 1992, Allan Fuller, the former North American sales manager of Digilab, entered a plea of guilty to one count of having made a false statement to GSA during the negotiation of the contract.
 The criminal Information and civil settlement are the results of an audit and investigation conducted by the Office of the Inspector General of the General Services Administration. The civil settlement is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Kanwit of Papparlardo's Civil Division, and the criminal case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Grosso of Pappalardo's Economic Crimes Unit.
 -0- 10/5/92
 /CONTACT: U.S. Attorney's press office, 617-223-9445/ CO: ST: Massachusetts IN: SU:


CH -- NE024 -- 6800 10/05/92 17:43 EDT
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Date:Oct 5, 1992
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