$8.4M Deal Reached on Underpaid Postage

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Cushman & Wakefield Inc., Interior Systems Inc. and William Marcellino, vice president of Interior Systems, agreed Sept. 8 to pay the United States and the U.S. Postal Service $8.4 million to settle a civil action filed by the Justice Department, said Richard B. Roper, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas.


The civil action alleged the defendants violated the False Claims Act by failing to pay the USPS for postage owed on mailings.


The suit claimed the defendants underpaid postage due in a mail presort business they operated in Dallas from 1997 through 2000. The presort business was run at various times by C&W and a joint venture between Interior Systems and Cushman & Wakefield of Michigan Inc., an affiliate of C&W, according to the suit.


The suit alleged that from at least 1998 to 2000, the presort business underpaid postage due on mail it presented for mailing by periodically withholding postage statements, which were relied upon by the USPS to determine the amount of mail submitted and the corresponding postage due.


Previously, the manager of the presort operation, Ralph W. Ebert, was prosecuted by the U.S. attorney's office for the Northern District of Texas for his role. He was convicted on two counts of mail fraud and sentenced in October 2000 to 66 months in jail.


The case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and prosecuted criminally and civilly by the U.S. attorney's office in Dallas and the Justice Department, Civil Division, with the assistance of the postal service's Southwest Law Office.


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