San Mateo County Defrauded by Local Contractor, New Lawsuit Alleges
San Mateo County has filed a lawsuit against Eaton & Associates for billing taxpayers for work they never completed.
Eaton & Associates, a San Mateo-based information technology contractor, has collected over $28 million in government contracts since 2013. The lawsuit alleges that approximately $2 million of those dollars were paid for a fiber-optic cable project. San Mateo County hired Eaton & Associates to perform the project from 2018 to 2022, which would have connected buildings in South San Francisco, San Mateo, Half Moon Bay, Daly City, and Pacifica with high-speed fiber-optic cable. The network would have reduced operational costs for the County and increased internet speeds for the taxpayers.
The lawsuit alleges that Eaton & Associates billed the County over $1.3 million for the project. The County paid those invoices, believing that Eaton would not have submitted the invoices if they had not completed the work. The County also paid another $500,000 of monthly invoices for maintenance of the fiber-optic network that didn’t exist. Including the initial payment to Eaton & Associates, the County paid them over $2 million for the project. When they discovered that Eaton & Associates never completed the work, the County brought a lawsuit to recover taxpayer funds.
The lawsuit alleges that Eaton & Associates violated California’s False Claims Act. California’s legislature passed the False Claims Act to prevent fraud on the public treasury. The Act permits recovery of civil penalties and triple damages from anyone who knowingly presents to a governmental entity a false claim for payment or approval. Based on the allegations in the complaint, Eaton & Associates could be liable for approximately $6 million in damages and civil penalties under California’s False Claims Act.
The County has engaged the law firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy (“CPM”), a local firm with a national reputation for taking cases involving just principles or causes. CPM has recovered hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars using the False Claims Act against defendants including British Petroleum, Quest Diagnostics, VMWare, and other companies who billed the taxpayers for work they never performed.
“Patricia and John Eaton ripped off San Mateo County taxpayers to the tune of $2 million during the pandemic for work they never performed. This lawsuit seeks to return those funds to the public treasury where they belong.” Attorney Donald Magilligan of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.
“Eaton & Associates punished the citizens of San Mateo County by taking internet resources away from them during an unprecedented pandemic while at the same time lining their pockets through fraud.” Attorney Nabilah Hossain of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy.