Judge: Lawsuit Alleging Firm Supplied Army With Unqualified Translators Can Proceed


Wherever the proficiency requirements were set, Marc Peltier, MEP's chief operating officer, told ABC News that he had "no reports from the field" of translators who could not communicate in Dari or Pashto. He said the company has received "100 percent outstanding" ratings from the Army and shared a copy of what he said was an internal company survey that showed 82 percent of its customers were satisfied with the performance of its translators. In a letter to ABC News, CEO Taylor said the company was founded to provide U.S. troops with "the highest level of assistance possible" and "has not just lived up to its goals, but in working with our troops in the field, represents a genuine success."

The ruling Friday was in response to an amended complaint filed by Funk – an earlier version was dismissed when the judge determined it lacked specifics to buttress his allegations. His latest complaint outlines how he claims the company allowed poorly skilled translators to be hired, and why. The complaint cites specific instances where Funk says prospective translators who had "submitted blank written examinations to determine [their language] proficiency had received passing grades." Funk said he repeatedly sounded alarms about the alleged deficiencies, including in one memo in which he allegedly wrote that "Written Testing appears to be compromised."

In the suit, Funk says he was asked to retest three applicants who had failed the exam.

"The explanation provided was that one of the three had not had a dictionary at the time of the examination," the complaint alleges. "When re-tested, each of the three individuals passed the written examination. Mr. Funk's Deputy Director, Idin Pirasteh, discovered – and reported to Mr. Funk – a 'cheat sheet' that had been used by one or all of these individuals for the re-examination. This cheat sheet contained written answers to the test questions."

Executives with the company told ABC News that Funk is a disgruntled ex-employee who "resigned due to financial improprieties in his office" and then then threatened to "wage war on the company." He denies that, saying he is telling the truth and that his goal is to prevent American troops from being put in harm's way.

Whistleblowers who file such suits stand to collect a portion of any monetary judgment, should the legal action succeed. The U.S. government is given an opportunity to intervene in such cases. Thusfar, the U.S. Justice Department has not decided whether it will intervene in Funk's case.

Judge Brinkema said Friday she believed Funk provided enough specifics about his allegations to permit the case to go forward. "Whether at the end of the day, when all the discovery is put together, it flies, is another issue," Brinkema said.

"The issues in this case are very important, and they need to go forward," she said. "Whether at the end of the day, when all the discovery is put together, it flies, is another issue."

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