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Arizona company settles claims of defrauding small business

SALT LAKE CITY -- A large Arizona construction company is paying nearly $1 million to settle allegations that it stole government work from the small Utah firm it was supposed to be mentoring.

The Department of Justice announced the settlement Friday with Tempe-based Okland Construction Co. Inc. The small company, Saiz Construction in Salt Lake City, will get about $150,000.

Prosecutors say Okland enrolled in a Small Business Administration program that pairs small and big companies. The goal is for more experienced companies to jointly bid on contracts with their protgs, giving the smaller company a better chance of winning.

Authorities say Okland never fully partnered with Saiz, and broke rules by not giving Saiz at least 15 percent of the work and pretending that Okland employees were Saiz employees.

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