ReadyOne pays $5 million fine for alleged misdeeds of previous company

EL PASO, Texas - The El Paso company was awarded millions of dollars in specialty government contracts because it said the majority of its workers had severe disabilities.

Not being able to speak English is not a disability.

ReadyOne Industries Inc. has agreed to pay $5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by submitting false certifications of the yearly percentages of labor hours worked by people with severe disabilities, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.

ReadyOne, formerly the National Center for Employment of the Disabled (NCED), is headquartered in El Paso. The company manufactures clothing, boxes and other products.

NCED had been a participant in the AbilityOne Program, which gives employment to people who are blind or have severe disabilities.

The program uses the buying power of the federal government to purchase approved products and services from community-based nonprofit agencies throughout the U.S.

In order to participate, 75 percent of all hours worked on government contracts must be by employees who are blind or severely disabled.

The United States alleges that between 2000 and 2006 NCED employed mostly non-disabled employees to work on contracts for the manufacture of boxes and clothing.

A court ruled the NCED committed fraud for six years from 2001 to 2006.

The CEO of NCED, Bob Jones, eventually pleaded guilty to fraud and was convicted to 10 years in prison.

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