The Justice Department said it pulled in more than a quarter billion dollars in judgments and settlements during the past year from companies that defrauded the government.

The $257 million collected by the government in fiscal 1990 includes 13 cases involving recoveries of $5 million or more, pushing the total past 1989's figure of $225 million.Fraud directed at the Defense Department made up a large part of the cases, including a $34 million settlement last December in a case brought against a bid-rigging cartel in Japan.

In that case, the military charged that construction costs of a U.S. Navy facility in Yokosuka, Japan, were inflated by 25 percent because of collusive bidding by 140 companies, including some of Japan's largest. The Justice Department has reached settlements with 137 of the 140 companies involved.

"This case sets a precedent for future cases against foreign companies that attempt to defraud the U.S. government," Attorney General Dick Thornburgh said in a statement Monday. "The Civil Division is continuing to follow up on other investigative leads concerning bid-rigging at other U.S. bases in the Far East."

Other military fraud cases include:

-General Electric agreed to pay $30 million in fines and civil penalties for overcharging the Army for a battlefield computer.

-The VSI Corp., a subsidiary of Fairchild Industries, agreed to a $14.5 million settlement over charges that VSI's Voi-Shan Aerospace Products Group provided untested nuts, bolts and screws to airplane manufacturers, who then used them on government contracts.

-Five companies - Boeing, RCA, Hughes Aircraft, Grumman and Raytheon - agreed to settlements totaling $13.5 million.