‘This Is Afghanistan’

SAN ANTONIO (CN) – An Army contractor in Afghanistan demoted and fired a construction manager because he refused to collect corrupt payments for work the firm had not done, the man says. Robert D. Johnson sued Technologists Inc. in Bexar County Court.

     Johnson claims his bosses told him to collect “progress” payments from the Army Corps of Engineers for work the company had not completed. Johnson says he refused, telling his supervisors that it would be wrong.
     Johnson says he was the Heart zone manager for Technologists Inc., reporting directly to its vice president for Afghanistan, Malik Mortaza.
     Johnson says he “had been informed by other Technologists’ management and personally observed that Technologists routinely made false requests for progress payments, in effect, certifying that work was completed when, in fact, it was not completed. Technologists then used the money to complete other projects. This type of ‘rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul’ scheme included building projects and using materials that were inferior and failed to comply with the project, inferior and/or failing to complete work on the projects.”
     Johnson claims that Mortaza “admitted the work had not been performed but justified his insistence to falsely obtain funds by saying: ‘this is Afghanistan’ or words to that effect.”
     Johnson claims that when he told Technologists managers that he had informed the Corps of Engineers about the illegal payments, his bosses immediately transferred him from his supervisory position in Heart to a nonmanagerial post in Jalalabad.
     “In sum, Mr. Johnson was demoted for refusing to commit illegal acts; that is, violating the False Claims Act,” Johnson says.
     Then Technologists fired him, breaching their agreement not to do so “without good cause,” he says.
     Johnson seeks more than $100,000 in lost wages and punitive damages for breach of contract, retaliation and violations of the False Claims Act. The only defendant is Technologists Inc.
     Johnson is represented by Stephen Cochell of Houston.

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