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DOJ Enforcement Actions

The Department of Justice is the principal federal agency authorized to enforce the laws and defend the interests of the United States. As such, it oversees the enforcement of the False Claims Act, the foundation of the American whistleblower system, as well as numerous other laws.

The agency traces its origins to the Judiciary Act of 1789 which created the Office of the Attorney General, and the 1870 Act to Establish the Department of Justice, which established the agency as “an executive department of the government of the United States” with the Attorney General as its head.

The agency is comprised of numerous divisions with the Civil Division and in some instances, the Criminal Division, overseeing investigations and prosecutions under the False Claims Act. The U.S. Attorneys Office of the federal district where the False Claims Act case is filed also plays a key role in False Claims Act enforcement.

Below are summaries of recent DOJ settlements or successful resolutions under the False Claims Act as well as other successful prosecutions for fraud and misconduct. If you believe you have information about fraud which could give  rise to a claim for a whistleblower reward, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

March 31, 2020

Oklahoma-based mortgage lender Finance of America Reverse (FAR) has agreed to pay $2.47 million to resolve allegations that its predecessor, Urban Financial Group Inc., violated federal loan requirements as well as the False Claims Act while participating in the Federal Housing Administration’s Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM) reverse mortgage program, which allows seniors to supplement their incomes by withdrawing equity on their homes through federally-insured loans.  Urban Financial Group, which was acquired by FAR in 2013, had been accused of originating and underwriting hundreds of HECM loans using forms that improperly influenced home appraisal values.  DOJ; USAO DC

March 20, 2020

A doctor in Florida has paid the United States $850,000 to settle claims of violating the Anti-Kickback and False Claims Acts.  In exchange for prescribing a powerful but highly addictive fentanyl spray, Subsys, to her patients, Dr. Parveen Khanna allegedly took illegal kickbacks from manufacturer Insys Pharmaceuticals, Inc that were disguised as speaker fees, then submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicare and TRICARE in violation of program rules prohibiting payment for kickback-induced services.  USAO MDFL

March 13, 2020

Dr. Thi Thien Nguyen Tran and Village Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery, LLC, have agreed to pay $1.74 million to settle claims of submitting false and inflated claims to Medicare.  From 2011 to 2016, defendants billed and caused Medicare to pay for lower-level wound repairs as if they were more complex adjacent tissue transfers.  The misconduct was eventually exposed by whistleblowers Dr. Robert Green and Emily Kennedy, who will share in a $305,000 award.  USAO MDFL

March 12, 2020

To resolve False Claims Act allegations, Ohio-based Sterling Medical Associates Inc. has agreed to pay $1.85 million to the VA in connection with claims from two of its outpatient clinics in Minnesota.  Based on the contract it had with the VA, Sterling was required to schedule appointments within 14 calendar days of a veteran's requested appointment date, but failed to do so and instead, manipulated requested appointment dates to make appointment wait times appear shorter.  DOJ; USAO MN

March 11, 2020

Millennium Physicians Association PLLC, d/b/a Millennium Respiratory & Sleep Disorder Specialists, has agreed to pay $1.2 million to resolve whistleblower-brought allegations of fraud in connection with two sleep centers in Texas.  From 2015 to 2019, Millennium allegedly violated Medicare rules and the False Claims Act by improperly billing Medicare for sleep studies conducted without the presence of properly credentialed technicians.  As part of the settlement, the anonymous relator will receive a $187,344  share of the settlement.  USAO SDTX

March 11, 2020

The organizer of a $2 million multi-state Medicaid fraud scheme has been sentenced to 11 years in prison and ordered to pay $2.5 million in restitution.  Along with two other co-defendants, Matthew Harrell fraudulently obtained the Medicaid provider number of mental health service providers in Georgia and Florida, as well as the Medicaid member numbers of children in foster care, welfare, and other programs in Louisiana.  Using companies purporting to be mental health providers, the defendants then submitted $3.5 million in false claims and received $2.5 million in reimbursements. Harrell's co-defendants, Nikki Richardson and Tomeka Howard, have also been ordered to serve time and pay restitution.  USAO NDGA

March 10, 2020

DOJ and the FTC have announced that $153 million comprising the first round of restitution payments from a Western Union fraud settlement is set to be disbursed to over 109,000 victims.  In 2017, the money transfer company agreed to pay $586 million to settle allegations of aiding and abetting wire fraud by failing to have effective anti-fraud policies and procedures.  Over 500,000 potential victims were harmed as a result of the fraud schemes, many of them elderly.  DOJ; FTC

March 4, 2020

Alaska-based Northern Air Cargo LLC has agreed to pay $4.7 million to resolve claims of falsely reporting U.S. mail delivery times.  Under a contract with USPS, Northern Air Cargo agreed to take possession of U.S. mail from certain domestic and international pick up points, then deliver the mail to other domestic or international destinations.  In order to obtain payment, Northern Air Cargo was required to submit scans confirming time of delivery, but violated the False Claims Act by submitting scans that reported falsified delivery times.  DOJ

March 4, 2020

STG Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. and senior executives Paschal Gilley and Mathew Gilley have agreed to resolve fraud allegations by paying $1.75 million.  The case against the hospice was launched by two former employees, Serita Samuel and Miranda Eskridge, who alleged in a qui tam suit that STG Healthcare submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid that arose from illegal payments to so-called back-up medical directors, and that were on behalf of patients who were not terminally ill and thus ineligible for palliative care.  GA AG; USAO NDGA

March 2, 2020

The owners and operators of Middlesex Rheumatology in Connecticut, Dr. Crispin Abarientos and his wife Dr. Antonieta Abarientos, have agreed to pay $4.9 million to settle allegations of violating federal and state False Claims Act.  Between 2013 to 2017, the Abarientos allegedly billed Medicaid for an injectable prescription drug called Remicade, which is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, but then failed to administer the drugs on Medicaid patients.  Instead, they administered them on patients covered by Medicare or the Connecticut State Employees Health Plan, then billed the two providers for the drugs again even though the cost had already been covered by Medicaid.  USAO CT
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