The Sicilian Mafia and janitorial services might seem an unusual pairing, but it’s at the root of nine years of litigation ruled on Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

The case began in 1999 after a U.S. Naval contracting officer awarded a $28 million maintenance case to Joint Venture Conserv. at the Navy’s Sigonella Air Base near Catania, Italy. The janitorial services company was owned by Carmelo La Mastra, who had been indicted by Italian prosecutors in 1997 for his alleged role in a mafia scheme to win construction contracts on the base. A losing bidder, Impresa Construzioni, filed a protest over both the price and ethical questions surrounding the winner.

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