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State Enforcement Actions

Each state enforces its laws and defends its interests, and states often work with the federal government in investigating and prosecuting corporate frauds.  Whistleblowers with knowledge of fraud or wrongful conduct that involves state or local funds or programs may be able to bring a claim under a state or local False Claims Act, and may be eligible to receive a monetary reward and protection against retaliation.

Below are summaries of recent settlements, successful prosecutions, and enforcement actions by states. If you believe you have information about fraud which could give rise to a claim under a State or Local False Claims Act or other whistleblower reward provision, please contact us to speak with one of our experienced whistleblower attorneys.

January 3, 2022

Previous metals dealer Lear Capital, Inc., and its founder, Kevin DeMeritt, have agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit by the New York Attorney General that alleged the company fraudulently charged investors up to 33% in undisclosed commissions, in violation of state laws requiring commodity broker-dealers and telemarketers to register with the state.  As part of the settlement, Lear has agreed to begin providing clear and conspicuous disclosures of the fees, enhance its complaint tracking procedures, and provide better training to its personnel.  NY AG

December 7, 2021

Vyera Pharmaceuticals, LLC and its parent company Phoenixus AG will pay up to $40 million and have agreed to make its drug Daraprim available to any potential generic competitor at list price to resolve claims of anticompetitive conduct.  The federal government and state governments alleged that Vyera principals Martin Shkreli and Kevin Mulleady enacted a plan to acquire life-saving toxoplasmosis drug, Daraprim, and dramatically raise its list price by 400% while engaging in conduct to prevent generic competition and protect their monopolistic pricing.  The resolution also bars Mulleady from working in the pharmaceutical industry for seven years; claims against Shkreli are continuing.  FTC; CA; NY; NC; VA

December 6, 2021

Pharmacy benefit manager Centene Corp. will pay $27.6 million to the State of Kansas to resolve allegations that it failed to satisfy its obligation to represent the state’s best interests in negotiations with companies that supply drugs to the state Medicaid program, failed to accurately report discounts it received from CVS-Caremark on certain retail pharmacy claims, and artificially inflated dispensing-fee amounts reported to state regulators.  The state alleged that Centene used an opaque reporting system that made it difficult for the state to determine the nature and appropriateness of certain pharmacy transactions.  As part of the settlement, Centene also agreed to change certain business practices to ensure greater transparency.  KS

November 22, 2021

Seven financial institutions – Barclays Capital Inc., Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Goldman Sachs & Co. LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated, NatWest Markets Securities Inc., and Washington Mutual Mortgage Securities Corp. – have agreed to collectively pay $32.5 million to resolve claims by New Mexico that the banks did not adequately disclose the characteristics of certain mortgage-backed securities sold to New Mexico pension funds and a state-run investment council between 2003 and 2010.  The settlement resolves a qui tam action under the New Mexico Fraud Against Taxpayers Act brought by Integra REC, LLCNM

October 14, 2021

Owners and executives of Massachusetts mental health provider South Bay Mental Health Center, Inc. have agreed to pay $25 million to resolve claims that they caused the submission of false claims to the state’s Medicaid program, MassHealth, by billing for services provided by unlicensed, unqualified, and improperly supervised staff members in violation of MassHealth regulations. Defendants  H.I.G. Growth Partners, LLC and H.I.G. Capital, LLC will pay $19.95 million and defendants Peter J. Scanlon and Kevin P. Sheehan, who held executive and board positions at relevant entities, will pay $5.05 million.  The case was initiated by the filing of a whistleblower complaint under the Massachusetts False Claims Act.  SBMHC previously agreed to pay $4 million to resolve related charges.  Mass

September 27, 2021

The State of New York has reached a $6 million settlement with electricity provider National Grid to resolve a fraud investigation launched by a whistleblower’s qui tam suit.  As part of its contract with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), National Grid was tasked with reading meters, collecting payments, and providing customer service, while LIPA provided the actual electricity.  For over four years, however, National Grid allegedly underreported the amount of electricity being delivered to homes and businesses, costing LIPA and the state millions in lost revenue.  The whistleblower in this matter will receive $1.41 million, while the settlement proceeds will go toward subsidizing energy upgrades for low-income residents.  NY AG

September 13, 2021

GTV Media Group Inc., Saraca Media Group Inc., and Voice of Guo Media Inc. will collectively pay more than $539 million to resolve SEC and New York State claims related to their alleged unregistered offering of GTV common stock and a digital asset security referred to as G-Coins or G-Dollars.  The SEC found that the respondents publicized the two offerings on their websites and social media platforms, raising approximately $487 million from more than 5,000 investors.  No registration statements were filed, and no registration exemption applied.  Without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, respondents agreed to pay disgorgement of $486 million plus interest, and penalties totaling $35 million.  SEC; NY

September 7, 2021

The founder of Agape Healthcare Systems, Inc., Timothy Mark Harron, was sentenced to 12 years in prison and ordered to pay $4.3 million in restitution following his guilty plea on healthcare fraud charges.  Harron and his wife, Latisha Harron, scoured obituaries for recently deceased Medicaid recipients and billed Medicaid for up to a year of home health services that were allegedly provided to the deceased by Agape.  Latisha Harron was previously sentenced to 14 years in prison.  NC

August 26, 2021

Nonprofit organization the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, its former CEO Tiffany Carr, and other former officers and directors, have entered into a settlement agreement with the State of Florida to pay $5 million to resolve civil claims arising from the alleged misuse of state grant funds and excessive compensation to Carr.  The entity will be dissolved.  FL

August 25, 2021

A California-based provider of home respiratory services and durable medical equipment has agreed to pay $3.3 million to the United States and States of California and Nevada to settle allegations of defrauding Medicare and Medicaid.  The claims against SuperCare Health, Inc. were brought in a 2018 qui tam suit by respiratory therapist Benjamin Martinez, who alleged that the provider billed for non-invasive ventilators (NIVs) that were no longer needed or being used by patients.  CA AG; USAO CDCA
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