A former supervisor at Chevron USA’s Pascagoula refinery worked with friendly contractors to defraud the company out of millions of dollars over a 10-year period, using his ill-gotten gains to buy recreational vehicles, boats and real estate, Chevron says in a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
As former operations and maintenance supervisor, Ted “Darin” Matthews, had authority to award contracts at the company’s largest U.S. refinery to 70 contractors, 22 of whom performed more than $1 million each in work from 2006 forward, the lawsuit says. Matthews resisted his supervisor’s request that he engage a second person in the work.
Unknown to Chevron, he formed forbidden personal relationships with at least one contractor and two subcontractors, directing them to submit false invoices, overcharge for work or double-bill for work, the lawsuit says. In exchange, Matthews received kickbacks and free work on rental properties, the lawsuit says.
Chevron is seeking an unspecified amount in damages and restitution, plus attorney’s fees and court costs, says the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court. Judge Louis Guirola Jr. is presiding.
The lawsuit names several companies that worked with Matthews, although none of them are listed as defendants: Williams Scotsman, supplier of modular office units and one of Chevron’s largest contractors, John Thompson and John Thompson & Associates, a heating and air conditioning company, and George Bragg and C&I Maintenance.
Chevron alleges that Williams Scotsman overcharged for repairs already covered in a monthly maintenance contract, double-billed for work subcontractors performed and were paid for separately, charged for work not performed and passed off subcontractors as its own employees.
The lawsuit says double billings alone by Williams Scotsman cost Chevron $3 million. Matthews and Thompson also defrauded Chevron out of $3 million, the lawsuit says.
“Matthews received kickback payments, personal favors, and other improper benefits from those contractors and subcontractors in exchange for his steering contracts and payments to them,” the lawsuit says.
“As a result of Matthews’s fraudulent and negligent acts and omissions, Matthews has been unjustly enriched at the expense of Chevron U.S.A., and the circumstances dictate that, in equity and good conscience, the money that Matthews acquired should be returned to Chevron U.S.A.”
Matthews conspired with Bragg of C&I to submit invoices for work never performed through Williams Scotsman, the lawsuit says. Matthews received a kickback once C&I was paid, the lawsuit says.
“On information and belief,” the lawsuit says, “after Bragg submitted one of these fictitious invoices to Williams Scotsman, he called another subcontractor to complain about being forced to pay kickbacks to Matthews in order to continue to get work at the refinery.”
Chevron has not responded to a request for comment about the lawsuit, including whether the company has involved any law enforcement agency in the case after its own extensive investigation.
Williams Scotsman has not responded to emailed questions or a telephone call about the allegations in the lawsuit. The Sun Herald could not locate a working telephone number for John Thompson & Associates or C&I Maintenance.
The Sun Herald also was unable to locate Darin Matthews. Chevron’s lawsuit represents only the company’s view of what happened. Matthews has not yet filed his response.