Whistleblower Insider

Whistleblower Insider is written by the Constantine Cannon law firm team of experienced qui tam and whistleblower lawyers. It is updated daily to provide the latest whistleblower and fraud news and developments.
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February 20, 2017

Nursing Home Operators Face Over $115M for Medicare Fraud

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

On February 15, a jury in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida found the operators of 53 skilled nursing facilities liable for over $115 million from false claims submitted to Medicare and Medicaid. The fraudulent claims involved a scheme where nursing facilities pretended patients needed and in turn received more care than they actually needed. The allegations were brought to light by Angela Ruckh, a former nurse at two of the facilities. The defendants were CMC II, LLC, Salus Rehabilitation LLC, 207 Marshall Drive Operations LLC and 803 Oak Street Operations LLC.

The false claims for unnecessary care coupled with fraudulent records were sufficient for the jury to come to the conclusion that a major fraud against the government had occurred. The reality of the False Claims Act’s trebling provisions along with a penalty of between $10,000 and $22,000 per claim could lead to a true payment of over $345 million according to Constantine Cannon attorneys Mary Inman and Poppy Alexander.

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February 20, 2017

In Their Own Words — Minto

— “You’re not just stealing from the customer, you’re stealing from the shareholders”

Ian Minto, former Wells Fargo employee commenting on the fraudulent creation of checking and credit-card accounts by Wells Fargo employees to meet sales goals.

February 20, 2017

Whistleblower News From The Inside — February 20, 2017

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

4th Circuit: DOJ Has Absolute Veto Power Over False Claims Act Settlements – The 4th Circuit concluded that the Department of Justice has the final say in whether a False Claims Act case can settle even if it has declined to intervene. South Carolina nursing home chain Agape and its former employees want to settle the FCA case, but due to the 4th Circuit’s ruling, the case will move on. Reuters

The Price of Being a Whistleblower – Whistleblowers often pay a heavy price for their courage to speak up about corruption. Often whistleblowers will lose their jobs, be forced in counseling, or crack under the pressure of whistleblowing and fall into substance abuse problems or succumb to mental illness. Forbes

Wells Fargo Whistle-Blower Finds Vindication After 15 Years – A former Wells Fargo employee who noticed unusual practices of bankers setting up multiple and fake accounts with the same address feels vindicated after the recent scandal exposing Wells Fargo’s practices. Ian Minto first reported to his supervisors on what he perceived as fraud in 2001 but was ignored and later dismissed for not meeting sales goals. SF Chronicle

February 17, 2017

Fraudster of the Week – Lance Armstrong

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

More than four years after his tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is once again making headlines in connection with his use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). This time, Armstrong’s doping misdeeds are being aired in a D.C. federal court, where the Department of Justice has sued Armstrong under the federal False Claims Act on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS).

From 2000 through 2004, USPS paid $32.3 million to sponsor Armstrong’s cycling team; the vast majority of this money went directly to Armstrong, the team’s cancer-beating star. As part-and-parcel of the sponsorship arrangement, the team’s owner, Tailwind Sports Company, promised the USPS that its cyclists would follow the rules of professional cycling—rules that flatly prohibit the use of PEDs. It is now common knowledge that both Armstrong and his fellow teammates consistently flouted this rule, winning several Tour de France titles in the process.

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February 17, 2017

In Their Own Words – McCormack

“Through the scheme outlined in the [whistleblower] suit, UnitedHealth has allegedly fraudulently claimed and retained hundreds of millions of dollars. That money would have been far better used to provide care for our nation’s seniors rather than simply padding UnitedHealth’s bottom line.”

— Tim McCormack, a partner in Constantine Cannon’s Washington, D.C. office and co-lead counsel on Constantine Cannon Whistleblower’s suit against UnitedHealth Group, commenting on the case after the government intervened.  Click here for more.

February 17, 2017

Whistleblower News From The Inside – February 17, 2017

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Congressmen release Federal Employees Guide to Sharing Key Information with the Public — Congressman Ted W. Lieu and Congressman Don Beyer released a resource guide for federal employees who wish to break the Trump Administration’s communications blackout on federal agencies. The guide explains how to safely and responsibly share information, and encourages employees to “Know Your Rights” and “Know Your Options.” House.gov

Seattle hospital accused of putting patients at risk – Following a whistleblower complaint alleging Swedish Cherry Hill’s neuroscience division was putting patients at risk, State Sen. Karen Keiser is questioning why the Department of Health did only a brief investigation after the whistleblower warned of inappropriate surgeries, increases in complications, unsupervised surgeries by fellows and staff complaints that had been ignored. Seattle Times

Princess Cristina of Spain found not guilty in fraud trial while husband is convicted — Iñaki Urdangarin was sentenced to prison on Friday in a business fraud case that represented a major embarrassment to the country’s monarchy, even though the king’s sister, Princess Cristina, was found not guilty. A regional court on the island of Majorca sentenced Mr. Urdangarin to six years and three months in prison, far less than the 19 and a half years sought by the prosecution, for his business dealings relating to the disbursement of millions of dollars of public funds for sporting events. NYT

February 16, 2017

United States Intervenes in Constantine Cannon Whistleblower’s suit against UnitedHealth Group, WellMed Medical Management

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

The U.S. Department of Justice has joined Constantine Cannon in bringing a whistleblower’s False Claims Act lawsuit against UnitedHealth Group, the nation’s largest health insurer and largest operator of Medicare managed healthcare insurance plans. The suit alleges UnitedHealth and its various subsidiaries and affiliates defrauded Medicare by improperly inflating its risk adjustment reimbursement. The company’s fraudulent schemes allegedly cost taxpayers billions.

Medicare makes additional payments to managed-care plans like UnitedHealth based on plan members’ risk scores, which are calculated in part using patients’ medical diagnoses. Higher risk scores are assigned to patients with more costly-to-treat conditions, while those with less costly conditions receive lower scores. Ideally, risk-adjustment payments offset increased costs associated with treating sicker patients. click here for more »

February 16, 2017

Defense contractor pays $14.9 M to settle FCA suit

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Sierra Nevada Corporation (“SNC”) agreed to settle False Claims Act allegations it misclassified costs—thus inflating its overhead—on several government contracts. The Nevada-based company has several defense and space contracts with the United States. The company’s current flagship project is the design and construction of the “Dream Chaser,” a NASA-funded aircraft designed for space flight.

The allegedly improper charges resulted from SNC’s practice of classifying certain direct contract and manufacturing costs as research and development costs. This misclassification exaggerated the overhead rates paid to SNC across its federal contracts. SNC also allegedly charged certain research and development costs in the wrong accounting period. The misconduct involved the company’s contracts with NASA and the Department of Defense.

February 16, 2017

Whistleblower News From The Inside — February 16, 2017

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Garda officer whistleblower receives official apology – Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny offered a full apology to Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, who was falsely accused of child sex crimes by Garda top brass after he raised concerns about corruption in Ireland’s driving license penalty points system; an independent review of Irish police operations will be conducted as a result of the scandal. Belfast Telegraph

West Virginia House of Delegates moves to increase whistleblower protections – The West Virginia House of Delegates voted unanimously to increase the penalties—from a maximum fine of $500 to $5,000—for retaliation against public employees who blow the whistle on government wrongdoing or waste; the person or people responsible for the retaliation will be on the hook for the fine, not the government entity. The State Journal

Blackwater successor set to go to FCA trial – A judge rejected the request of Academi Training Center (formerly Blackwater) to delay an FCA trial based on two whistleblowers’ allegations that the company overbilled the government for services in Afghanistan; the trial is scheduled to begin March 21. Guns

February 15, 2017

Question of the Week – Will Other Countries Duplicate Nigeria’s Whistleblower Program?

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

The Nigerian government recently reported that its two-months-old whistleblower program has already recovered over $176 million. While these numbers are skewed due to a single recovery of over $136 million, the yields are still quite impressive.  Information and Culture Minister Lai Mohammed was not shy on confidence when describing the early returns of the program:

When we told Nigerians that there was a primitive and mindless looting of the national treasury under the last administration, some people called us liars. Well, the whistle-blower policy is barely two months old and Nigerians have started feeling its impact, seeing how a few people squirrelled away public funds. It is doubtful if any economy in the world will not feel the impact of such mind-boggling looting of the treasury as was experienced in Nigeria. click here for more »