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Government Programs Fraud

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Fraud in Government Programs
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November 1, 2023

XTO Energy Inc. has agreed to pay $16 million to resolve allegations of violating the False Claims Act.  In exchange for producing natural gas on federal and Native American lands, XTO was supposed to put the gas in marketable condition and pay royalties on the value of the gas produced.  However, over an 8 year period, XTO improperly deducted the costs of transporting carbon dioxide.  With this settlement, the Department of Interior has now recovered $25 million from energy companies who similarly withheld required royalties from the government.  DOJ

Catch of the Week: AECOM

Posted  10/30/23
Flooded Traffic Light Sign
Last week's Department of Justice (DOJ) Catch of the Week goes to Dallas-based architecture and engineering firm AECOM.  Last Tuesday (October 24), the company agreed to pay $11.8 million to settle charges it violated the False Claims Act by improperly billing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for disaster assistance funding in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster...

October 24, 2023

AECOM, an architecture and engineering firm in Texas, has agreed to pay $11.8 million to resolve allegations of defrauding FEMA and violating the False Claims Act in connection with efforts to rebuild educational facilities damaged by Hurricane Katrina.  While serving as a technical assistance contractor for FEMA, AECOM allegedly helped applicants submit fraudulent requests for disaster assistance funds, resulting in some applicants receiving funds in excess of what was permitted.  The misconduct was revealed by whistleblower Robert Romero, who will receive a relator’s share of $2.4 million as part of the settlement.  DOJ

October 11, 2023

Automotive management company Victory Automotive Group Inc. (VAG) has agreed to pay $9 million for allegedly providing false information on a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness application.  In order to be eligible for a PPP loan under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, VAG allegedly falsely certified that it was a small business with fewer than 500 employees, when in fact it and its affiliates cumulatively had over 3,000 employees across the country.  The misconduct was reported by a whistleblower in a qui tam suit; the whistleblower will receive a relator’s share of about $1.63 million.  DOJ

Thomas Jefferson University Pays $2.7 Million to Settle Student Loan Fraud Allegations

Posted  07/28/23
Thomas Jefferson University has agreed to pay $2.7 million to settle allegations concerning the misuse and improper retention of "primary care" student financial aid loans. Education fraud encompasses traditional financial aid programs as well as specialty loan programs like the Primary Care Loan program at issue here. Congress established the Primary Care Loan program to address the nation’s shortage of primary...

Expanded Connecticut State False Claims Act is Win for Whistleblowers

Posted  07/7/23
Front View of Hartford Connecticut Capitol Building
Whistleblowers take note: the Connecticut State False Claims Act (CT FCA) has been significantly expanded beyond healthcare fraud claims. Historically, the CT FCA was limited to fraud on Medicaid and other programs within health and human services. The amended statute now reaches fraud across a variety of sectors, such as government contracting, education, employment, immigration, housing, mortgage and insurance...

June 26, 2023

In the largest ever Post-9/11 GI Bill fraud case, co-conspirators Michael Bostock, Eric Bostock, and Philip Abod, through their VA-approved technical training school, California Technical Academy, defrauded the federal government out of nearly $105 million by making false and fraudulent representation to the VA. More specifically, from January 2012 through June 2022, the co-conspirators submitted falsified course completion records for enrolled veterans, including approved courses of study, class attendance, and grades. To conceal their fraud, they falsified veterans’ contact information so that when regulators called veteran-students to verify information, one of the three co-conspirators answered the line instead. DOJ

April 14, 2023

Rudean Weir and Jerome Weah will spend 30 and 46 months in prison, respectively, for defrauding the Enhanced One Shot Deal, a New York City Human Resources Administration program which provides cash assistance to homeless veterans seeking permanent housing. Weir and Weah submitted over 340 fraudulent EOSD applications using fake documentation and residency information and received approximately $5.4 million from the program as a result. Both defendants were ordered to pay $5.4 million in restitution. Weir will forfeit nearly $3.8 million, including his interest in two bank accounts, and six real estate properties. Weah will forfeit nearly $2.2 million, including his interest in two bank accounts and one real estate property. SNDY

As States Look to Expand Health Coverage, State FCAs Become More Important than Ever

Posted  03/22/23
Continental US Map
The increasing burden of healthcare costs has state governments looking at new programs to expand government healthcare options for their residents.  Such an expansion of government spending will require a corresponding expansion of efforts to root out fraud, waste, and abuse that steals taxpayer dollars and reduces the benefits available.  Existing anti-fraud measures, including state False Claims Acts, will play a...

March 17, 2023

A man in New York who laundered millions of dollars of criminal proceeds from a panoply of illegal schemes—including computer hacking, healthcare fraud, loan fraud involving Small Business Administration (SBA) funds, and operating an unlicensed international money transmitting business—has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.  According to the DOJ, Djonibek Rahmankulov worked with computer hackers to gain control of U.S. bank accounts, then executed millions of dollars of fraudulent wire transfers into accounts controlled by him and his associates.  He also worked with pharmacies to launder millions of dollars of Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements for HIV medications that were not actually dispensed or legally obtained.  During the pandemic, Rahmankulov submitted fraudulent applications to the SBA for his companies, laundered the proceeds, and made false statements to financial institutions regarding his activities.  Finally during his trial, he repeatedly sought to obstruct justice by threatening a witness and producing fraudulent letters of support from the community.  USAO SDNY
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