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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.

October 25, 2019

Two foundations that provide pharmaceutical co-payment assistance to patients have reached agreements to resolve claims that they failed to operate independently of their pharmaceutical company donors and violated or caused the violation of the False Claims Act and Anti-Kickback Statute by working with those companies to ensure that donations received from them would be used to cover co-payments for the donor's drugs, inducing patients to purchase the drugs.  The Chronic Disease Fund, Inc. will pay $2 million, and the Patient Access Network Foundation will pay $4 million, amounts that were arrived at based on the entities' abilities to pay.  CDF was alleged to have conspired with Novartis, Dendreon, Astellas, Onyx, and Questcor.  PANF was alleged to have conspired with Bayer, Astellas, Dendreon, and Amgen.  The foundations also entered into 3-year corporate integrity agreements.  USAO MA

October 24, 2019

Engineering firm CH2M Hill will pay $6.4 million to resolve claims that it billed the U.S. Air Force for work done by personnel who did not meet educational and work experience requirements set forth in a contract between the parties for environmental consulting work.  The settlement arose following CH2M's 2017 disclosure of the overbilling and repayment of $10.5 million.  Following that payment, the Air Force contended that CH2M knew about the overpayment as early as 2011, but sought to conceal the result of its internal audit, claiming privilege.  USAO WD WA

October 23, 2019

Gary Frank was sentenced to 17.5 years in prison following a guilty plea on charges related to his fraudulent business scheme.  Frank claimed to run a multi-million dollar company, Legal Coverage, Ltd., through which employers could offer legal services as part of their employee benefits package.  Based on these misrepresentations -- in fact, the company had very little revenue -- Frank obtained over $30 million in loans from financial institutions, which he used to fund his own extravagant lifestyle.  Frank was also ordered to pay restitution of $33.7 million.  USAO EDPA

October 23, 2019

New York contractors Upstate Construction Services, LLC and Structural Associates, Inc. will pay more than $1 million to resolve allegations that they formed an undisclosed joint venture in order to qualify for and obtain bonding and contracts set aside for small businesses located in HUBZones.  Although Upstate qualified as a HUBZone entity, Structural did not, and had Structural's share of Upstate's profits been disclosed, Upstate would not have been awarded the millions of dollars in contracts at issue.  USAO NDNY

October 18, 2019

Following a government analysis of Medicare claims data and a whistleblower's qui tam lawsuit, seven former Osteo Relief Institutes and their owners have agreed to pay more than $7.1 million to settle claims of defrauding Medicare.  The alleged fraud involved clinics in Arizona, California, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Texas billing Medicare for medically unnecessary treatments for osteoarthritis, including viscosupplementation injections and knee braces.  The whistleblower involved will receive $857,550.  DOJ

October 17, 2019

Five home health providers in Iowa and South Dakota have been ordered to pay a combined $3.1 million for submitting false claims to Medicare.  Affiliates of Minnesota-based Welcov Healthcare LLC allegedly billed Medicare for therapy services that were not provided by skilled employees or not medically necessary.  Sergeant Bluff Healthcare, LLC will pay over $1.2 million, Logan Healthcare, LLC and Elk Point Healthcare #1, LLC will each pay over $775,000, Red Oak Healthcare, LLC will pay over $228,000, and Flandreau Healthcare 2, LLC will pay about $116,000.  USAO NDIA

October 15, 2019

Otolaryngologist Dr. Tracey Wellendorf has agreed to pay $1 million to resolve allegations of violating the False Claims Act in at least 115 procedures billed to Iowa Medicaid.  The alleged misconduct occurred between 2014 and 2015 and involved endoscopic sinus surgeries that were either medically unnecessary or incorrectly coded.  USAO NDIA

October 15, 2019

Nederland Shipping Company and Chartworld Shipping Company, the Liberia-incorporated owners and operators of a the cargo ship M/V NEDERLAND REEFER, have agreed to pay $1.8 million for violating the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships (APPS).  During a Coast Guard inspection of the ship at a port in Delaware, inspectors found that chief engineer Vasileios Mazarakis was routinely tricking an oil content monitoring device into discharging oily water at sea before it could be processed by an Oily Water Separator (OWS), then falsifying the ship’s Oil Record Book (ORB).  Mazarakis eventually plead guilty to falsifying the ORB as well as obstructing the Coast Guard’s investigation.  The companies will be placed on a four-year probation period to ensure that company ships entering U.S. waters comply with applicable maritime laws.  The APPS has a whistleblower reward provisions that incentivizes the reporting of this sort of illegal activity. DOJ

October 10, 2019

A Maryland-based man has been sentenced to 22 years in prison for his role in a $396 million Ponzi scheme, the largest ever charged in Maryland.  Unbeknownst to hundreds of victim investors, the consumer debt portfolios they invested in through Kevin Merrill and co-conspirators Jay Ledford and Cameron Jezierski were fake, with Merrill, Ledford, and Jezierski going to great lengths to keep up the illusion.  The trio created imposter companies and bank accounts, fake documents, and invited would-be investors to tours of their Texas “office.”  By the time they were arrested in 2018, the scheme had raked in over $396 million, with another $260 million pending.  As part of his sentence, Merrill has also been ordered to pay restitution of at least $189 millionUSAO MD; SEC

October 10, 2019

A billboard licensing company that manages licenses in New York, Texas, Minnesota, and Missouri has agreed to pay $2.85 million to resolve fraud allegations.  In 2009 and 2011, All Vision LLC entered into contracts with USPS to manage licenses and collect payments on land that USPS leases out to billboard companies.  As part of the contract, All Vision had agreed to forward lease payments, less fees, to USPS in a timely manner, but allegedly withheld at least $8 million in payments while misrepresenting the actual amounts collected.  All Vision has since repaid over $5.2 million; the $2.85 million settlement will resolve all remaining claims.  USAO CO
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