CRIME

Blackwater whistleblower lawsuit heads to trial in Alexandria

The entrance to Blackwater Worldwide in Moyock, N.C. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
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ALEXANDRIA, Va. (AP) — The security firm once known as Blackwater overbilled the federal government for services in Iraq and Afghanistan and submitted phony reimbursements and other bogus expenses, a lawyer said Tuesday in opening statements of a whistleblower lawsuit brought by two former employees.

A lawyer for the company, which now operates under the name Xe Services, denied the fraud accusations and said the firm's employees had always strived to be scrupulous in its accounting.

"The State Department continues to receive invoices from us, for our work," said the company's lawyer, David O'Brien. "They continue to pay it and they continue to do business with us."

The 2008 lawsuit from ex-employees Brad and Melan Davis accuses the company of submitting fraudulent bills to the State Department on its $1 billion contract for security work in Iraq and Afghanistan. If the jury agrees, the Davises would be eligible to collect a share of any money that the government lost to fraud.

Their attorney, Susan Burke, told a jury in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., that Blackwater employees falsified records of how many workers were actually providing security services in Iraq and Afghanistan at any given time and also submitted inflated reimbursement amounts for travel.

"They didn't want to alert the State Department to that fact," Burke said. "The State Department had put an enormous amount of trust into them."

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