IBM accused of Homeland Security Project Shield fraud

A company has taken IBM to court in an Illinois district court, accusing it of fradulently funnelling a contract through to a company with ties to a Cook County executive.

Responder LLC alleges that Big Blue “fraudulently induced” it to develop and put into action a mobility platform for Project Shield in Cook County. Project Shield is funded by the Department of Homeland Security to the tune of over $41 million.

Cook County was to be provided with state of the art broadband for streaming live video from fixed and mobile CCTV cameras to command posts in case of a terrorist attack.

IBM, Responder alleges, guaranteed its role as the mobility platform vendor for phases two and three of Project Shield.

The filing says: “Unbeknownst to Responder, IBM at all times had a plan to unlawfully transition Responder’s successful platform to a completely unqualified pass through vendor with ties to a Cook County executive.”

It’s alleged that Big Blue’s implementation of the plan was at odds with its contract with Cook County, at odds with IBM’s business conduct guidelines.

That resulted in a “doomed” Project Shield and damaged Responder, it’s alleged. So Responder is suing IBM on four counts – fraud; tortious interference with contractual relations; tortious interference with prospective economic advantage; and trade secret misappropriation.

The filing alleges that IBM had other business activities with Cook County and used its access to Project Shield funds to “cement its relationship” with Cook County IT manager Dudley Donelson. Responder alleges Project Shield business went to a company called Public Safety Communications (PSC), connected to Donelson.

It’s alleged that IBM paid millions of dollars to PSC to “appease Donelson and obfuscate its own inability to perform its contract with Cook County”.

Responder loaned PSC $25,000, with its president Clarence Browning telling Responder president Michael McGee that PSC would not compete.

Responder Systems wants a jury to award it compensatory damages, punitive damages, enhanced damages and lawyers’ fees.