By RYAN WICKER
Syracuse-based Hayner Hoyt Corporation has agreed to pay $5 million, plus interest, to resolve allegations that its Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gary Thurston, its President, Jeremy Thurston, employees, Ralph Bennett and Steve Benedict and Hayner Hoyt affiliates LeMoyne Interiors and Doyner Inc., engaged in conduct designed to exploit contracting opportunities reserved for service-disabled veterans.
The United States has long used government contracting to promote small businesses in general and specifically small businesses owned by veterans who have service-connected disabilities. Congress has established a targeted procurement program for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which requires the VA to set annual goals for contracting with service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. To be eligible for these contracts, an applicant must qualify as a “small business.” In addition to being a small business, a service-disabled veteran must own and control the business and handle its strategic decisions and day-to-day management.
“Those who do business with the federal government must do so honestly,” said U.S. Attorney Richard S. Hartunian for the Northern District of New York “As today’s settlement demonstrates, this office will vigorously pursue those individuals and entities who game programs designed to help our nation’s veterans succeed in starting small businesses.”
Defendants make various admissions in the settlement agreement, including that their conduct violated federal regulations designed to encourage contract awards to legitimate service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses. They also admit that 229 Constructors provided more than $1.3 million in service-disabled veteran-owned small business subcontracts to Hayner Hoyt, LeMoyne Interiors and Doyner and that those companies generated $296,819 in gross profits as a result.
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