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Whistleblower Rewards

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February 11, 2019

North Greenville University (NGU) in South Carolina has agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle claims that it violated Title IV of the Higher Education Act, as well as the False Claims Act, by improperly compensating student recruiters with bonuses while receiving federal student aid. The alleged fraud was exposed by Maurice Shoe, co-owner of a recruiting company partially owned by NGU; Shoe will now receive $375,000 of the government’s recovery. DOJ

February 5, 2019

Two doctors from the Florida-based Fishman & Sheridan Eye Care Specialists clinic have agreed to pay a combined $157,312.32 to settle their liability under the False Claims Act. Drs. Craig D. Fishman and Jeffrey A. Sheridan were outed in a qui tam complaint filed by former business partner Dr. Michael Pennachio and office manager Sharon Drake, which alleged that from 2011 to 2017, Fishman and Sheridan knowingly billed Medicare for blepharoplasty and ptosis repair surgeries that were purportedly performed on the same patients, even though they are mutually exclusive eyelid repair surgeries. For exposing the fraud, Pennachio and Drake will receive a relator's share of $26,000. USAO MDFL

January 30, 2019

Inform Diagnostics, formerly known as Miraca Life Sciences Inc., will pay $63.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act, Anti-Kickback Statute and Stark Law.  The pathology laboratory company provided referring physicians with subsidies for electronic health records systems, as well as free or discounted technology consulting services, which were alleged to constitute improper financial relationships not subject to any safe harbor.  Three separate whistleblowers had filed qui tam lawsuits against the laboratory; they will receive a share of the settlement that is yet to be determined.  DOJ; USAO MDTN

January 28, 2019

A producer of fish oil and fishmeal products, Omega Protein Corp., has agreed to pay $1 million to resolve allegations that when the company applied for a $10 million federal loan, it falsely certified that it was complying with federal environmental laws when, in fact, it was knowingly violating the Clean Water Act by discharging oil into U.S. waters. In 2013, the company pleaded guilty to criminal violations of the CWA.   The civil settlement arises from a False Claim Act case filed by a former employee of Omega, Keland O. Harrison, who will receive $200,000 of the settlement proceeds.  DOJ

January 28, 2019

A skilled nursing facility based in Orlando, Florida, Conway Lakes NC, LLC, and related entities and physicians, have agreed to pay $1.5 million to resolve allegations that they engaged in a unlawful kickback and referral scheme for Medicare and TRICARE beneficiaries.  Conway Lakes was alleged to have contracted with orthopedic surgeon Kenneth Krumins under a sham “medical director” arrangement in violation of the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute to induce him to refer patients for rehabilitation services.  A former employee of Conway Lakes, Jonathan Montes de Oca, reported the arrangement by filing a qui tam case under the False Claims Act and will receive $267,000 of the proceeds.  USAO MDFL

Top Ten Federal False Claims Act Recoveries of 2018

Posted  01/28/19
The federal False Claims Act, under which whistleblowers can bring claims to report fraud and misconduct in government contracts and programs, is the foundation of the Department of Justice's fraud recovery and the U.S. whistleblower reward system.  In 2018, the U.S. recovered over $2 billion from defendants who sought to cheat the system. The top FCA settlements for calendar year 2018, based on the amount of the...

Catch of the Week – Walgreens Pays Record $273 Million To Settle Three FCA Suits

Posted  01/25/19
Three separate qui tam actions brought by whistleblowers against Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Walgreens) have resolved in what amounts to the largest settlement payouts for a retail pharmacy. In the first action, two former Walgreens pharmacists alleged that the company sought reimbursement for insulin pens it dispensed to Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries who did not need them. Walgreens did so in two ways....

Top Ten Whistleblower Awards of 2018

Posted  01/25/19
2018 was another banner year for whistleblowers. As the DOJ recently reported in its annual summary of False Claims Act recoveries, $2.1 billion of the $2.8 billion in settlements and judgments reported last year arose from lawsuits filed under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. During the same period, the government paid out $301 million in whistleblower awards to the individuals who exposed the fraud by...

January 22, 2019

Walgreens Co. will pay the U.S. and the State of Wisconsin $3.5 million to settle a case under the False Claims Act alleging that the retail pharmacy routinely dispensed stimulant medications to Wisconsin Medicaid beneficiaries without first verifying that the prescribing physician ordered the medication for medically appropriate treatment, such as treatment for attention deficit disorder. The case was initiated by unidentified whistleblowers, who will receive a share of the settlement to be determined. USAO EDWI

January 22, 2019

Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. will pay $60 million to settle a False Claims Act case brought by a whistleblower alleging that the retail pharmacy chain knowingly overcharged Medicaid when it charged the healthcare program more than "usual and customary price" for medications that participants in Walgreens "Prescriptions Savings Club" received at a lower price.  Of the settlement, approximately $32 million will be paid to the U.S. and $28 million to the affected states.  Whistleblower Marc D. Baker will receive a share of the total settlement, to be determined at a later date.  USAO SDNY
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