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Long-running whistle-blower lawsuit settled in US Navy kickbacks case in Rhode Island

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PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — A couple from Georgia who filed a lawsuit that blew the whistle on wrongdoing by a longtime U.S. Navy employee and Navy contractors has agreed to settle for $90,000, and a federal judge in Rhode Island has dismissed the long-running case.

U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi on Monday ordered the lawsuit dismissed after the sides agreed to settle. The whistle-blower lawsuit was filed nine years ago by Rekha and Karan Vasudeva, of Roswell, Georgia, under the federal False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on the government's behalf. The couple initially sought up to $54 million, triple the $18 million that prosecutors say the Navy lost in a broad kickback scheme.

Six people pleaded guilty in the scheme in 2013. Those convicted include Ralph Mariano, a longtime employee of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center last based at the Washington Navy Yard. He acknowledged signing off on false invoices submitted by Georgia-based contractor Advanced Solutions for Tomorrow and others. The company also had offices in Middletown.

The Vasudevas said in their lawsuit that they were involved in setting up a company used to issue fictitious invoices to Advanced Solutions and a subcontractor.

The couple sued Mariano and others who ultimately pleaded guilty, including Advanced Solution's founder, Anjan Dutta-Gupta. They also sued his wife, Indrani Dutta-Gupta, and daughter, Amrita Dutta-Gupta, who were never criminally charged. In settling the lawsuit, the Dutta-Guptas did not admit liability.

Mariano is serving a 10-year prison term, while Anjan Dutta-Gupta and Russell Spencer, a subcontractor from Rhode Island, are serving three years. They and a fourth man, Patrick Barry Nagle, were ordered to pay back the $18 million the Navy lost. Spencer and Nagle also pleaded guilty.

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