Colorado Springs Company And Its Owners Agree To Pay Over $400,000 To Resolve Allegations That It Improperly Obtained Small Business Research Funds
DENVER (STL.News) United States Attorney Jason R. Dunn announced that Albido Corporation, along with two individuals, have agreed to pay over $400,000 to settle allegations that the company improperly obtained three awards through the Small Business Innovation Research Program based on false misrepresentations of eligibility for the program.
The Small Business Innovations Research Program (SBIR) is a federal program intended to foster eligible small businesses through federally funded research and development awards. Awards are made by various government agencies, with the goal of providing federal funds for eligible small businesses to research and develop technology with potential commercial benefits. The government does not own the research it subsidizes through the SBIR program or share in the profits from commercial applications. However, in order to ensure that taxpayer dollars are properly spent, the Small Business Administration, and each agency issuing awards, publishes eligibility requirements for participation in the program.
Albido Corporation, a Colorado company based in Colorado Springs, received three SBIR awards between 2014 and 2017 from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Department of Energy to research and develop surface acoustic wave sensors.
According to the United States, Albido Corporation, and its two then-owners, Dr. Viorel Olariu and Dr. Alfred Gnadinger, made numerous false certifications and representations to NASA and the Department of Energy regarding the company’s eligibility for the program prior to and during the performance of the awards. The United States contends that Albido Corporation did not meet the eligibility requirements for these awards because the company violated rules involving who can be designated as the award recipient’s principal investigator.
Albido Corporation, Dr. Olariu, and Dr. Gnadinger have now agreed to pay over $400,000 collectively to settle the allegations.
“When federal agencies set rules to ensure taxpayer dollars are used for specific purposes, those rules must be taken seriously,” said U.S. Attorney Jason Dunn. “When we become aware that companies have improperly obtained federal-program funds based on misrepresentations, we will take action to enforce the rules and recoup the money.”
“These settlements underscore the important role that proactive fraud detection efforts play in ensuring the integrity of the SBIR Program. I commend the outstanding investigative efforts of the NASA and Department of Energy agents and the work of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado in reaching these agreements,” said NASA Inspector General Paul K. Martin.
“The Department of Energy Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively investigate those who attempt to defraud Department programs,” said Teri L. Donaldson, Department of Energy Inspector General. “I would like to thank our investigators as well as the NASA OIG and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado for their hard work in reaching this settlement.”
The claims against Albido Corporation and its owners are allegations, and in agreeing to settle this matter, they did not admit to any liability.
The United States Attorney’s Office thanks NASA’s Office of Inspector General and the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General for their diligent work on this investigation. The United States was represented in this matter by Assistant U.S. Attorney David Moskowitz.