HPM Corp, a contractor at the Hanford nuclear site in Eastern Washington, will pay nearly $3 million after a fraud investigation over COVID-19 aid.

HPM Corp. is the occupational medicine contractor at Hanford, providing health services to the over 9000 workers at the site. Based in Kennewick, Washington, they’ve provided services as far afield as the NASA George CC. Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. They have won awards and competitive contracts as a small business.

In 2020, HPM Corp was awarded a loan of $1.3 million from the CARES Act. In 2021, the U.S. Small Business Administration forgave that loan, and waived approximately $13.500 in interest when HPMC reported that they had met the conditions for loan forgiveness.

But an investigation later showed that the loan money was not used to further the business, but was instead transferred in its entirety into the personal checking accounts of the company’s founder and her husband. One of the conditions of the CARES business grants is that they be used strictly for business expenses, like payroll, rent, or inventory.

“Stealing money from pandemic relief funds is reprehensible,” said Teri Donaldson, Department of Energy inspector general. The DOE Office performed the investigation that revealed the fraud.

“These funds were intended to help small and local businesses and keep the communities of Eastern Washington safe and strong, not to line the pockets of millionaire owners,” U.S. Attorney Vanessa Waldref, said in a statement.

HPM Corp and its owners agreed on a settlement, admitting guilt. They will be required to repay the loan and interest in its entirety, along with significant penalties. The total comes to nearly $3 million. The owners, Holly and Grover Cleveland Mooers, have also been assessed an additional $250,000 penalty to be paid from their own assets. If all is repaid within three years, federal criminal charges will not be levied against them.

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