This week’s Department of Justice “Catch of the Week” goes to Mylan Inc. and Mylan Specialty L.P. Yesterday, the pharmaceutical companies agreed to pay $465 million to settle charges they violated the False Claims Act by purposely misclassifying EpiPen as a generic drug to avoid paying higher Medicaid rebates. In announcing the settlement, the government stressed its “unwavering commitment to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for schemes to overbill Medicaid, a taxpayer-funded program whose purpose is to help the poor and disabled.” click here for more
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.
— The settlement “shortchanges the taxpayers…The government’s own watchdog said the taxpayers may have overpaid for EpiPen by as much as $1.27 billion over 10 years.”
Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, commenting on the finalized $465 million settlement against Mylan Inc. and Mylan Specialty L.P related to the anti-allergy device EpiPen.
The SEC announced insider trading charges against seven individuals who generated millions in profits by trading on confidential information about dozens of impending mergers and acquisitions. Data analysis allowed the SEC’s enforcement staff to uncover the illicit trading despite the traders’ alleged use of shell companies, code words, and an encrypted, self-destructing messaging application to evade detection. click here for more
Poland Spring Allegedly Committing “Colossal Fraud” — A lawsuit claims that Poland Spring Water is deceiving consumers with evergreen labels that say their bottle contains “100 percent natural spring water” that hails from Maine. The class-action lawsuit claims that parent company Nestle Waters North America is bottling common groundwater that doesn’t meet the federal definition of spring water. CNBC
WIPO Draft Whistleblower Protection Policy Falls Short of International Standards — This summer, the Director General of the WIPO, Francis Gurry, is circulating the draft of a new whistleblower protection policy for the consideration of WIPO Member States. This is striking for several reasons. First, Gurry has been the subject of numerous reports of misconduct from three WIPO whistleblowers, all of whom suffered retaliation from him. Second, the new policy names Director General Gurry as the official responsible for the entire process of protecting whistleblowers from retaliation. These features of the draft policy do not meet generally-accepted international best practice standards. Such standards do not place the authority for redress and vindication of a whistleblower in the hands of another staff member who may have a conflict of interest, as Gurry currently does. Government Accountability Project
A Pocket Dial to a Reporter Costs a Court Spokesman His Job — A longtime, highly-paid spokesman for the New York State Court system, David Bookstaver, accidentally called a reporter while having a four-minute conversation with someone else, which was captured on the reporter’s voicemail. In the recording, Mr. Bookstaver told the unnamed party that he had just lied to a Post reporter investigating his work schedule, by saying “I’m in a much less visible position; that doesn’t mean I’m not doing any [work]. But, frankly, look, the bottom line: The story’s true. I’m not doing anything. I barely show up to work and I’ve been caught.” NYT
Honeywell Diversity VP Says in Suit She Was Fired for Fighting Discrimination — Honeywell International faces a suit from a former vice president who said she was hired to increase diversity at the executive level but contends she was hired as window dressing. Natasha Chandler brought various claims including a whistleblower claim against the company, where she worked as vice president for human resources. She claims Honeywell solicited her to implement diversity strategies. But after starting on the job, she said she came to question the sincerity of the company’s commitment to remedy past discrimination, and the company began to retaliate against her for carrying out her duties. NJLJ
With the rise of the nation’s opioid crises, more opportunities for corruption and fraud have developed. An industry of patient brokering or “body brokering” has been born. Body brokers are paid kickbacks by rehab clinics in exchange for their recruiting of patients. Patients with good insurance are the most appealing recruits.
Kickbacks are also being paid between healthcare entities. For example, one common scheme involves drug rehab centers paying “halfway houses” kickbacks for them to send patients to the clinics. A typical payment totals about $500 weekly, but rehab billing to insurers can total hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just in Palm Beach County, Florida, 30 body brokers have been arrested and charged in the last 10 months. The county has established a “sober homes task force” to deal with the problem. In July, the DOJ announced the arrest of Eric Snyder, who allegedly billed insurers over $58M in fraudulent treatments and tests, and recruited addicts with drugs, strip club visits, and gift cards. click here for more
Navy Commander pleads guilty to conspiring to defraud Navy — CDR Bobby Pitts has admitted that he conspired to protect Leonard Glenn Francis (“Fat Leonard”). In 2015, Francis pleaded guilty to a decade-long fraud scheme that involved bribing officials with cash, prostitutes, luxury travel, Cuban cigars, Kobe beef, and Spanish suckling pigs. Pitts admitted to leaking documents about the investigation to Francis and working with Francis to cover up the fraud. Pitts is the 18th guilty plea related to the scandal. USAO Southern District of California
New Jersey cardiologist settles FCA suit for $476k — Apostolos Voudouris admitted to fraudulently billing the VA for hundreds of procedures he did not actually perform. Voudouris has also pleaded guilty to one count of criminal healthcare fraud, and is required to pay another $238k in restitution. USAO New Jersey
Bronx pastor settles FCA suit for $330k — Torrence Robinson has settled allegations that he received and kept 14 years-worth of his deceased father’s Social Security benefits. The benefit payments continued to be deposited into an account that Robinson shared with his father while his father was alive. Hudson Valley News Network
In a move that garnered praise from former KKK leader David Duke, Trump has once again blamed “both sides” for last weekend’s violence in Charlottesville. The about-face follows Trump’s long-awaited, if hollow, condemnation of neo-Nazi groups on Monday. click here for more
“It’s lamentable, but it’s predictable. And no one should be surprised.”
Ta-Nehisi Coates on Trump’s response to the events in Charlottesville. Read more here
Whistleblower to Receive $1.59 million in Shipyard Overbilling Case — “The U.S. Department of Justice reports that Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. has agreed to a $9.2 million settlement of allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly overbilling the government for labor on U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships at its shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi.” Marine Log
Former SEC Attorney Jordan Thomas Raps WSJ Report on Enforcement Activity — “The Wall Street Journal article criticizing the feds’ level of enforcement this year is off-base, the attorney explains.” CFO.com
Nigeria’s Finance Minister Praises the Country’s Whistleblower Initiative — “The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, says the whistleblower policy of the Federal Government is one of the current administration’s successful initiatives. The Whistleblower Policy was introduced in December 2016 by the Federal Government as part of the initiatives to wage war against corruption.” The Guardian
According to a just-released post on the Government Accountability Project’s (GAP) Food Integrity Campaign Blog, the Trump Administration’s focus on deregulation may have particularly dire consequences on the safety of our food supply. There are two pieces of legislation in particular to which we should pay particular heed.
First, is the Regulation Accountability Act which apparently will require federal agencies to adopt the most cost-effective methods of regulating goods, not those most protective of consumers. Also known by some as the “Filthy Food Act,” GAP’s Food Integrity Campaign warns that “[w]ithout proper oversight, stories of sick kids poisoned by salmonella will proliferate, and thousands of needless deaths will occur nationwide. click here for more