WASHINGTON — Boeing Co. has paid $18 million to settle allegations the company overcharged the government for lunch breaks while maintaining the Air Force's C-17 Globemaster aircraft.

A former Boeing employee, James Thomas Webb, alleged that workers at the Long Beach Depot Center in California submitted claims from 2006 to 2013 for eight-hour days despite knowing that they spent less time than that working because of lunch breaks and other extended breaks.

He originally brought the allegations as a whistleblower under a provision of the False Claims Act, which allowed him to sue on behalf of the government.

Webb received $3 million from the government under the settlement, and another $115,000 in legal fees from Boeing, according to the settlement signed Sept. 21. The Justice Department, which intervened in the case to pursue the settlement, announced the payment Wednesday.

Boeing both manufactured and maintained the C-17, one of the military's most popular transport aircraft for troops and cargo. The planes are maintained in Long Beach.

Benjamin Mizer, who is head of the Justice Department's civil division as the principal deputy assistant attorney general, said the settlement demonstrates the government contractors must charge the government appropriately.

"Defense contractors are required to obey the rules when billing for work performed on government contracts," he said.

Boeing didn't concede liability in the settlement.

"Boeing took prompt corrective action immediately after it became aware of the site's irregular billing practice, and the company cooperated fully with the government investigation," the company said in a statement to USA Today.

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