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Government Enforcement Actions

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January 18, 2023

The owner of several construction companies has been ordered to pay $1.75 million and serve over 2 years in prison after being convicted of fraudulently obtaining over $240 million in government contracts set aside for service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSB).  Michael Angelo Padron had recruited a service-disabled veteran to serve as the companies’ ostensible owner, but he and his business partners retained actual control of all financial and operational decisions, in violation of program rules set forth by the Small Business Administration (SBA).  DOJ

January 13, 2023

The SEC has awarded more than $5 million to a whistleblower who first reported internally, and whose subsequent tip to the agency helped shape its investigation.  Based on the whistleblower’s information, agency staff were able to identify witnesses and effectively draft document and information requests.  SEC

January 12, 2023

Blue Water Shipping U.S. Inc. has agreed to pay $1.89 million to settle claims that one of its former employees billed the government for freight forwarding services that were never performed and charged the government unallowable markups for inland transportation, and imports and exports of ocean and air freight.  USAO NJ

January 11, 2023

A man accused of defrauding ten pension funds out of $43 million has been ordered to pay over $10.2 million in disgorgement, interest, and penalties.  Jason Sugarman, his partner Jason Galanis, and six other co-conspirators had acquired control of two investment advisors with the intent to use their clients’ funds to purchase Native American tribal bonds.  Instead, the group misappropriated the funds and used them to acquire a foreign insurance company and the second investment advisor.  SEC

January 9, 2023

Doctor Aarti Pandya and her practice, Aarti D. Pandya, M.D. P.C., have agreed to pay $1.8 million to resolve a whistleblower suit that alleged they billed federal healthcare programs for medically unnecessary cataract surgeries and diagnostic tests, incomplete or worthless tests, and office visits that failed to provide the level of service claimed.  The allegations were brought in a 2013 qui tam suit by former employee Laura Dildine, which the government intervened on in 2018. In addition to the false claims listed above, Pandya also allegedly falsely diagnosed patients with glaucoma in order to justify claims for reimbursement.  USAO SDGA

January 4, 2023

The former Minister of Government for Bolivia, Arturo Carlos Murillo Prijic, was sentenced to nearly 6 years in prison after pleading guilty to laundering over $500,000 in bribes through bank accounts based in Miami.  Prijic had received the bribes from a Florida-based company in exchange for helping them secure a $5.6 million contract to provide non-lethal equipment, such as tear gas, to the Bolivian Ministry of Defense.  DOJ

December 22, 2022

New York doctor David DiMarco and his companies, D. B. DiMarco, M.D., P.C. and DiMarco Vein Centers LLC, has agreed to pay $2 million to New York’s Medicaid program and withdraw from providing services to it after an investigation found DiMarco submitted false claims between 2015 and 2021.  According to the NY AG’s office, DiMarco submitted more than a thousand claims for procedures without sufficient documentation showing the procedures performed or their medical necessity.  AG NY

December 21, 2022

Biotechnology companies iSense, LLC and Specific Diagnostics, Inc., together with their founder Paul Andrew Rhodes, will pay a total of $10.1 million to resolve allegations that they submitted false claims under grants from the DOD and HHS.  The government alleged that the firms improperly billed for costs incurred by another business, billed for compensation in excess of authorized federal limits, backdated services and cost-sharing agreements, and knowingly presented a backdated agreement to the government. USAO NDCal

December 21, 2022

Precious metals firm Monex Deposit Company, together with related entities and individual owners, have been ordered to pay a civil penalty of $5 million, and customer restitution of $33 million, to resolve claims arising from the defendants’ operation of a retail over-the-counter trading platform, known as “Atlas,” which allowed customers to speculate on precious metals price movements, with Monex acting as the counterparty to every transaction. While the defendants claimed in marketing that leveraged trading of precious metals was highly profitable, in fact, the majority of the trades resulted in losses for customers.  CFTC

December 20, 2022

Cochlear implant manufacturer Advanced Bionics LLC paid $11.4 million to resolve claims brought in a whistleblower action that the company falsely stated that the radio-frequency (RF) emissions generated by some of its cochlear implant processors met international standards when it submitted pre-market approval applications to the FDA.  The company allegedly knew that the devices did not meet standards, and manipulated testing conditions to obtain passing test results.  Whistleblower David Nyberg, a former engineer at Advanced Bionics, will receive a qui tam award of $1.9 million from the federal amount of the settlement.  DOJ; USAO ED PA
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