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Boeing pays $18 million to settle claims it overcharged Pentagon

C-17 military cargo planes at Boeing’s Long Beach factory

Boeing C-17 military transport planes are completed at the company’s sprawling facility in Long Beach.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Aerospace giant Boeing Co. has paid $18 million to settle charges that it overbilled the Pentagon for maintenance work on a fleet of giant military cargo planes at its Long Beach facility.

The U.S. Justice Department had contended that Boeing knowingly charged the government for time its mechanics spent on extended breaks and lunch hours.

“Defense contractors are required to obey the rules when billing for work performed on government contracts,” Benjamin Mizer, an attorney who leads the Justice Department’s civil division, said Wednesday.

“Today’s settlement demonstrates that the Justice Department will ensure that government contractors meet their obligations and charge the government appropriately,” Mizer said.

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The lawsuit, brought under the federal False Claims Act, was filed by former Boeing employee James Thomas Webb.

The law allows individuals to sue on behalf of the government if they have evidence of wrongdoing. Webb will get a share of the recovery -- a sum that has not yet been determined.

Boeing said Wednesday that it had cooperated with the government’s investigation.

“Boeing took prompt corrective action immediately after it became aware of the site’s irregular billing practice,” said William Barksdale, a Boeing spokesman.

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Boeing is in the process of closing its factory in Long Beach, where the wide-bellied C-17 cargo plane is built.

In 2010, the Pentagon said it would buy no more of the planes. The company also has not received enough foreign orders to keep the plant operating.

The company has a separate contract with the Air Force to perform maintenance on its C-17 fleet.

Follow me on Twitter @MelodyPetersen

melody.petersen@latimes.com


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