Whistleblower of the Year Candidate Stories

Taylor Radig

Whistleblower of the Year_1 Quanah is an animal agribusiness company in Kersey, Colorado, that purchases newborn calves from dairy factories, places them in a temporary holding facility for a week or so, and then ships them out to be slaughtered for veal or raised for meat.  Ms. Radig was hired by Compassion Over Killing, a Washington DC-based non-profit animal rights group, to gather evidence of suspected abuse at Quanah.  She went undercover for three months, filming three Quanah employees routinely abusing newborn calves, including violently dragging them by their legs, lifting them by their tails, and throwing them onto the ground.  She turned over the video to the Weld County, Colorado Sherriff’s office two months after ending her investigation.  She was then arrested for animal cruelty.  Sherriff John Cooke said that by not immediately reporting the abuse, her actions “adhere[] to the definition of acting with negligence and substantiates the charges of Animal Cruelty.”  But Compassion Over Killing’s Executive Director, Erica Meier, said the charges against Ms. Radig are nothing but a “shoot-the-messenger strategy aimed at detracting attention away from the crimes of those who actually abused animals.”  The criminal charges against Radig are still pending.  In the meantime, Quanah has apparently taken corrective action and terminated the three employees in the video.

Judy Doetterl

Whistleblower of the Year_2 Ms. Doetterl had been a drug sales representative for Johnson & Johnson for three years when she was tasked by the company to focus her efforts on selling Risperdal to treat dementia.  The drug was not FDA approved for this condition and raised potential safety issues for this group.  She raised her concerns up the chain of command but was ignored and pressured to continue with this sales approach.  Concluding that the company was not going to stop what she considered to be this dangerous marketing practice, Ms. Doetterl went to the authorities and filed a False Claims Act lawsuit.  In working with the government, she wore a wire and taped marketing presentations at a national sales meeting.  “I was concerned that I would be found out,” she said, but “I knew in the end I was doing the right thing.  [The government] needed to know what was going on.”  As a result of her efforts, along with the work of several other whistleblowers, the government succeeded in securing one of the largest healthcare fraud settlements in US history.

Secret Service Whistleblowers

Whistleblower of the Year_3Among the allegations this group of whistleblowers raised at significant risk to their career advancement and relationships:  sexual misconduct, including hiring prostitutes and visiting brothels, spanning at least 17 countries, many instances of agents becoming intoxicated, and both agents and more senior officials complicit in the improper behavior.  The allegations came on the heels of a prostitution scandal last year in Colombia, in which more than a dozen Secret Service agents took a night out on the town – heavy drinking and tripping the light fantastic with prostitutes – just ahead of President Obama’s visit to the country.  One of the officials appointed to investigate the Columbia scandal, Ignacio Zamora Jr., was himself dismissed from President Obama’s security detail when these whistleblowers stepped forward because he allegedly sent sexually charged emails to a female agent and left a government-issued bullet from his service weapon in a woman’s room at the Hay-Adams hotel in DC.  Senator Ronald Johnson (Wis.) said that appointing Zamora was a classic case of “the fox guarding the hen house.”

Dinesh Thakur

Whistleblower of the Year_4Mr. Thakur, an American-educated chemical engineer was hired by Ranbaxy in 2003 as director and global head of research information and portfolio management.  In his position, he oversaw the research and quality control side of Ranbaxy’s pharmaceutical business.  He soon learned the company was engaging in serious misconduct to gain a competitive advantage in the US market.  This included selling drugs that did not meet FDA safety and efficacy requirements and lying to the FDA about its manufacturing operations in India which were the source of its US supply.  Mr. Thakur tried for years to work within the company, reaching all the way up to the Board of Directors, in an effort to get the company to clean up its act.  The company refused so Mr. Thakur brought his concerns to the DOJ through his filing of a False Claims Act lawsuit.  The action resulted in the largest settlement with a generic drug maker for drug safety issues and the US ban of dozens of Ranbaxy drugs made in India.  Perhaps most importantly, it also facilitated a total revamping of the FDA’s procedures for regulating overseas drug manufacturing.

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