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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.

May 12, 2021

Wireless communications provider Assurance Wireless, a subsidiary of Sprint (now T-Mobile), will pay $1.6 million to resolve claims under the Oregon False Claims Act that it overcharged low-income Oregonians purchasing voice and broadband service under the Oregon Lifeline program, which is funded with federal and state subsidies.  The settlement follows an FCC enforcement action that resulted from the state's investigation.  OR

April 27, 2021

Indivior plc and Indivior Inc., will pay $300 million to settle claims from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, alleging they caused the misuse of state Medicaid funds by falsely marketing the drug Suboxone.  Suboxone is used by recovering opioid addicts to reduce withdrawal symptoms.  According to the governments, Indivior promoted the sale and use of Suboxone for unsafe, ineffective, and medically unnecessary purposes, including by claiming it was less susceptible to abuse even though the active ingredient, buprenorphine, is a powerful opioid itself.  Additionally, the company took steps to fraudulently delay the entry of generic alternatives in order to control pricing.  The settlement resolves six whistleblower suits pending in New Jersey and Virginia.  Indivior previously paid $600 million to resolve federal claims, and former parent company Reckitt Benckiser previously paid $1.4 billion to resolve the same.  CA AG; FL AG; MI AG

April 5, 2021

New York's Service Station Vending Equipment, Inc., which provides self-service, coin-operated air machines used to inflate automobile tires, and its principal, William McCabe, will pay $4.25 million to resolve an action initiated by a whistleblower under the New York State False Claims Act alleging that they evaded sales taxes, under-reported sales, and paid workers off the books.  NY

March 25, 2021

The eighth highest grossing casino in California, Artichoke Joe’s Casino, has agreed to pay $5.3 million in the largest agreed-upon penalty in California’s gambling regulation history.  According to the Attorney General’s Office, Artichoke Joe’s failed to accurately or timely report an investigation by the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to California’s Bureau of Gambling Control, as required under the Gambling Control Act of 1998.  As a result of the federal investigation, Artichoke Joe’s admitted that it failed to implement and maintain an effective anti-money laundering program and failed to report certain suspicious activity, in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act; the casino will pay a separate $5 million penalty to resolve those charges.  CA AG

March 23, 2021

Medical device manufacturer Boston Scientific Corporation has agreed to pay $188.6 million to 47 states and the District of Columbia to resolve allegations concerning its transvaginal surgical mesh, which were found to be deceptively marketed in violation of consumer protection laws and allegedly caused serious complications for thousands of women nationwide.  As part of the settlement, Boston Scientific also agreed to implement various marketing, training, and clinical trial reforms.  Similar settlements were previously reached with other medical device manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, which paid $116.9 million in 2019, and C.R. Bard, which paid $60 million in 2020.  CA AG; FL AG; NY AG

March 19, 2021

Following an earlier federal settlement, construction management company V.J. Associates, Inc., and its affiliates, will pay a total of $1.875 million to resolve claims brought in a whistleblower complaint on behalf of Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York.  Defendants provided cost estimating and scheduling services on public works projects, and admitted to submitting false bills to prime contractors by inflating employee hours on contracts on which they were paid on a time-and-expense basis.  Employees internally referred to this overbilling as “juicing” and “tagging” hours.  NY; MA

March 2, 2021

Hedge fund manager Thomas E. Sandell has paid $105 million to resolve claims first brought by a whistleblower under the New York False Claims Act alleging that Sandell evaded tens of millions in state and local taxes by falsely claiming that $450 million in management and performance fees he recognized in 2017 were not earned for services performed in New York, despite the fact that his fund, Sandell Asset Management Corporation, operated in New York and represented to the SEC that New York City was its principal place of business.  In his effort to evade NY taxes, Sandell moved to London for a period of time, opened an office in Florida, and managed SAMC expenses through a shell company that he also owned and controlled, all while continuing to perform the investment services that generated the fee income in New York.  When Sandell’s accountant informed him that he would have to pay NY state taxes, he terminated them and retained a firm that took his preferred position.  The whistleblower will receive an award of $22.05 million, which is 21% of the government’s recovery. NY

February 23, 2021

Cryptocurrency trading platform Bitfinex, operated by iFinex, and Tether were ordered to end all trading activity for NY customers and agreed to pay $18.5 million in penalties following an investigation into their handling of customer deposits and withdrawals that resulted in the loss of hundreds of millions of customer assets.  Tether was found to have falsely represented that each of its stablecoins was backed one-to-one by U.S. dollars in reserve when, in fact, they were not.  NY

February 12, 2021

General Motors (GM) has agreed to a $5.75 million settlement with the State of California to resolve allegations of making false and misleading statements to investors, including the state’s largest pension system, California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS).  According to Attorney General Xavier Becerra, GM cheated California twice—first by failing to disclose a faulty ignition-switch issue to the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that it had been aware of for almost ten years, and which ultimately led to 124 fatalities and 274 injuries, and second by concealing the problem from investors and failing to build reserves for losses it knew was coming.  The company’s actions artificially inflated its stock price, causing CalPERS to lose millions of dollars.  CA AG

February 5, 2021

Private equity fund ACP X, LP, its manager Laurence Allen, and other corporate entities owned and controlled by Allen including NYPPEX Holdings, LLC, have been ordered to pay nearly $7 million.  Allen allegedly used investor funds to pay himself and others exorbitant salaries and cover the expenses of Allen’s affiliated entities, contrary to representations to investors.  A receiver was appointed to wind down the fund.  NY
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