Federal agents raid University Loft headquarters

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

Federal agents on Tuesday raided the headquarters of University Loft in Hancock County, spending hours at the contract-furniture maker seizing records.

Agencies involved included the Department of Defense, the Air Force, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The agents were executing a sealed search warrant, said Mary Bippus, spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Tim Morrison. She would not disclose the contents of the warrant.

No arrests were made, Bippus said.

The company last year was awarded a multi-million-dollar contract to supply metal furniture for the Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune base in North Carolina.

CEO James Jannetides was not immediately available for comment.

In a written statement issued Tuesday, University Loft said: “Our company was approached by federal agents with a search warrant seeking business records. The government did not reveal to us the object of their search, but we are cooperating with them in every way requested and will continue to do so. University Loft is confident it is in compliance with all applicable laws.”

Jannetides founded University Loft in 1986. Four years ago, it built a $22 million, 508,000-square-foot headquarters in the Hancock County town of Mount Comfort.

It’s not clear how many employees the company has in Mount Comfort. University Loft added 30 workers last year to fulfill the Marine contract.

This is not the first time University Loft has been investigated by the federal government. A year ago, the company agreed to pay $400,000 following an investigation by the U.S. Justice Department alleging the company violated trade agreements. The Justice Department said the settlement resolved allegations that the company knowingly sold Malaysian-made furniture to government agencies, which violated the Trade Agreements Act.

To strengthen government trade policy, the act sets requirements for the country of origin selling products to the United States. University Loft failed to comply with the rules under contracts it received from the General Services Administration that allowed it to sell to the military and other government entities, the Justice Department said.

University Loft issued a prepared statement at the time saying it "disputed the claims and concluded that it had at all times acted in good faith and engaged in no wrongdoing." However, the company said it "determined that it was more cost-effective to settle the case than litigate it."

The settlement followed a federal investigation of alleged false claims and contract fraud against University Loft brought in a lawsuit by California competitor Furniture by Thurston Inc. Furniture by Thurston received a $66,000 share of the recovery.

Under the False Claims Act, private citizens can bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery obtained by the government.

The case was investigated as part of the National Procurement Fraud Initiative. The government formed the National Procurement Fraud Task Force in 2006 to promote the early detection and prosecution of procurement fraud associated with the increase in government contracting activity, particularly for national security programs.

In its statement, University Loft said the primary issue in the case was whether it was permitted under the Trade Agreements Act to ship furniture directly from Malaysia to overseas U.S. military bases. The company said government contracting officials authorized and requested such shipments to save shipping costs. However, the Justice Departments said the practice violated the trade act even if it was requested by government officials.



  • disastro
    Terrible company to work for, Terribly designed products and unappealing in today's market. I was in Supervision here for a couple years, pay was descent, with absolutely no benefits or holiday pay, nothing. Worst HR department I have ever seen, claim to promote from within. When I applied for jobs I was qualified for they tell me "we are not filling these positions at this time" two weeks later they hire the plant managers kin for the position. Very corrupt, applied for another position I was qualified for after 1 1/2 yrs of working there and they give the job to another supervisor who had been there 6 months because he and the plant manager were both in the military. I respect veterans however people who have experience & went to college should not be stepped on because your a veteran. Don't even get me started on the owner what a gaudy a*******, he couldn't even remember my name. Had his boats and ridiculous vehicles everywhere, and cameras everywhere so he can watch you from his home in FL or his vacation home, hey buddy if you have to micro manage that much your doing something wrong. Your willing to put new graphics on one of your 5 stupid boats and strut that shit around, but you can't pay vacation/holiday pay for 8 days during Christmas/new year when people need rent and food for their children what a putz. Your plant manager is driving that place into the ground. Good luck if you have to travel for them your get the short end of everything. management, IT & maintenance are horrid but really nice people blah. BE AWARE respect & moral business ethics are lost here and this company has been swallowed by greed and devious practices.
  • support
    The James Jannetides I knew was knowledgeable, reliable, honest and an excellent vendor and respondent to customer needs. In my opinion complaints by competitors would be dishonest and untrue.
  • Former customer (Tulane)
    University Loft provides an excellent product and supports it and provides repair assistance without question. In my experience they were competitive and very dependable.
  • Tell us your Names
    We at loft would be happy to fix any problems you may have had in shipping. We do not control the trucks but understand damage can happen to be fair you should know that before you blame a company for fright dames a do a negatice post.
    • Over priced products
      We used this company a few times and received damaged products each time. Way over priced compared to other companies, a big hassle trying to get replacements. Very rude people when you call the office, have an I dont want to be bothered with you attitude.
      • quality beds
        I own 3 graduate series beds and this is by far the best quality furniture i own. Maybe i am mistaken, but this article seems to show the company was sued for saving the government money and shipping directly from Malaysia... Maybe trade agreements should be revised to prevent unnecessary spending. A tany rate my only complaint about this company is i bought my beds years ago with intentions to get the lindy loft kit later and now they don't sell the kit so i can make 2 beds into an L loft like they used to advertise. They still have it available for other bed series though,frustrating
      • Quality
        U Loft has the best equipment in the market, we have always been satisfied and pleased with our products.
      • Wonderful
        They have the absolute best product on the market, from what I have leaned this was bascially nothing.
      • ???
        is it safe to buy from this company?
      • ibj article
        did you see this?
      • Jim

      Post a comment to this story

      We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
      You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
      Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
      No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
      We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

      Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

      Sponsored by

      facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
      Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
      Subscribe to IBJ
      1. Socialized medicine works great for white people in Scandanavia. It works well in Costa Rica for a population that is partly white and partly mestizo. I don't really see Obamacare as something aimed against whites. I think that is a Republican canard designed to elicit support from white people for republican candidates who don't care about them any more than democrats care about the non-whites they pander to with their phony maneuvers. But what is different between Costa Rica nd the Scandanavian nations on one hand and the US on the other? SIZE. Maybe the US is just too damn big. Maybe it just needs to be divided into smaller self governing pieces like when the old Holy Roman Empire was dismantled. Maybe we are always trying the same set of solutions for different kinds of people as if we were all the same. Oh-- I know-- that is liberal dogma, that we are all the same. Which is the most idiotic American notion going right back to the propaganda of 1776. All men are different and their differences are myriad and that which is different is not equal. The state which pretends men are all the same is going to force men to be the same. That is what America does here, that is what we do in our stupid overseas wars, that is how we destroy true diversity and true difference, and we are all as different groups of folks, feeling the pains of how capitalism is grinding us down into equally insignificant proletarian microconsumers with no other identity whether we like it or not. And the Marxists had this much right about the War of Independence: it was fundamentally a war of capitalist against feudal systems. America has been about big money since day one and whatever gets in the way is crushed. Health care is just another market and Obamacare, to the extent that it Rationalizes and makes more uniform a market which should actually be really different in nature and delivery from place to place-- well that will serve the interests of the biggest capitalist stakeholders in health care which is not Walmart for Gosh Sakes it is the INSURANCE INDUSTRY. CUI BONO Obamacare? The insurance industry. So republicans drop the delusion pro capitalist scales from your eyes this has almost nothing to do with race or "socialism" it has to do mostly with what the INSURANCE INDUSTRY wants to have happen in order to make their lives and profits easier.

      2. Read the article - the reason they can't justify staying is they have too many medicare/medicaid patients and the re-imbursements for transporting these patient is so low.

      3. I would not vote for Bayh if he did run. I also wouldn't vote for Pence. My guess is that Bayh does not have the stomach to oppose persons on the far left or far right. Also, outside of capitalizing on his time as U. S. Senator (and his wife's time as a board member to several companies) I don't know if he is willing to fight for anything. If people who claim to be in the middle walk away from fights with the right and left wing, what are we left with? Extremes. It's probably best for Bayh if he does not have the stomach for the fight but the result is no middle ground.

      4. JK - I meant that the results don't ring true. I also questioned the 10-year-old study because so much in the "health care system" has changed since the study was made. Moreover, it was hard to get to any overall conclusion or observation with the article. But....don't be defensive given my comments; I still think you do the best job of any journalist in the area shedding light and insight on important health care issues.

      5. Probably a good idea he doesn't run. I for one do not want someone who lives in VIRGINIA to be the governor. He gave it some thought, but he likes Virginia too much. What a name I cannot say on this site! The way these people think and operate amuses me.