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criminal 188 articles

New bill would strengthen whistleblower protections for military members

A bill designed to toughen protections for military whistleblowers has been introduced by four U.S. Senators who say that improving the provisions would encourage more military members to blow the whistle on sexual assault, fraud, waste, and abuse. The bill, dubbed the Warner-Collins-Kaine-Grassley Amendment for the senators who designed it, appears to enjoy strong bipartisan support. The measure is also backed by some 50 whistleblowers and organizations, including the Government Accountability Project (GAP), a group that has emerged in recent years to advocate for whistleblowers in all levels and branches of government. “Improving the military’s whistleblower system is an important ... Read More

Whistleblowers’ Medicare-fraud lawsuit recovers $48 million from California nursing home group

A California-based nursing home company that operates in several western states has agreed to pay $48 million to resolve whistleblower allegations that it performed medically unnecessary rehabilitation services on its patients and billed Medicare for the procedures, the U.S. Justice Department said. The settlement is one of the largest Medicare fraud cases against a nursing home in U.S. history. According to the Justice Department, six skilled nursing facilities belonging to Mission Viejo-based Ensign Group Inc. submitted false claims to Medicare for the unneeded treatments. The fraudulent practices were brought to the attention of U.S. regulators by two former Ensign Group ... Read More

Whistleblower asks court to punish Florida hospital for destroying evidence

A whistleblower suing Halifax Hospital Medical Center on behalf of the U.S. government filed a motion in federal court in Orlando last month alleging the Daytona Beach, Fla., hospital destroyed three years of records that would have proven it billed federal health care programs for unnecessary hospital admissions and other fraudulent practices. In addition to admitting patients unnecessarily to the hospital, plaintiff Elin Baklid-Kunz, 47, of Enterprise, Fla., alleges she witnessed more than a decade of billing fraud, inappropriate spinal surgeries, and illegal kickbacks to doctors, most of which, she claims, were designed to defraud Medicare and Medicaid. Total damages ... Read More

Amid newer whistleblower laws, False Claims Act remains top fraud fighter

Earlier this month, health care conglomerate Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay the U.S. government more than $2.2 billion in criminal and civil fines to resolve whistleblower accusations that it illegally promoted its antipsychotic drug Risperdal to children, the elderly, and people with developmental disorders. The settlement, one of the largest in U.S. history involving health care fraud, demonstrates that the federal False Claims Act remains the government’s most powerful tool in recovering taxpayer funds taken from government-subsidized programs through fraudulent practices. On November 4, the U.S. Justice Department announced it had reached an agreement with Johnson & Johnson to ... Read More

Omnicare settles whistleblower’s allegations of providing illegal kickbacks to nursing facilities

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Omnicare Inc., a provider of pharmaceuticals to nursing homes and other health care facilities, has agreed to settle a whistleblower lawsuit alleging it violated federal anti-kickback laws by giving nursing homes discounts on Medicare services in exchange for patient referrals. The Cincinnati-based company will pay $120 million plus attorney fees to resolve the allegations. The whistleblower lawsuit was filed in federal court in Cleveland by former Omnicare pharmacist Donald Gale. Mr. Gale alleged the company offered discounts and below-cost prices for drugs and supplies to nursing facilities in exchange for referrals of patients with prescription needs that ... Read More

Florida health care providers ask court to dismiss whistleblower complaint

A Florida-based hospital chain and affiliated companies filed a motion in federal court Monday seeking to have a whistleblower’s claims against them thrown out. The companies say that the complaint alleges they improperly billed Medicare and Medicaid for services, but fails to link those allegations to any actual submission of false claims to government-subsidized health care programs. According to Law 360, Brenda Farnsworth’s lawsuit includes allegations that Hospital Corp. of America Inc., Parallon Business Solutions LLC, and Galencare Inc., which operates under the name Northside Hospital, “falsified records to dupe Medicare and Medicaid into covering unsafe – sometimes fatal – ... Read More

Whistleblower lawsuit against Bayer revived by appellate court

ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The U.S. Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals restored a whistleblower’s lawsuit against Bayer alleging the pharmaceutical giant fraudulently led the Department of Defense to into purchasing its drug Baycol, a cholesterol-lowering statin that had been linked to 31 deaths. Laurie Simpson, former senior market research analyst for Bayer, filed her lawsuit in a federal court in Minneapolis under the False Claims Act, alleging that Bayer aggressively marketed Baycol in early 1998 to compete with other “cerivastation” drugs when it knew studies had found the drug to be less effective at lowering cholesterol than competing drugs when ... Read More

Whistleblower may receive $1.6 million reward for exposing Countrywide mortgage fraud

A former Countrywide executive who exposed questionable lending practices at the company may collect a $1.6-million dollar reward under a 1989 law that was passed amid the savings and loan (S&L) crisis. Edward O’Donnell filed a whistleblower complaint in February 2012 under the federal False Claims Act, which allows individuals to sue on behalf of the U.S. government when they have witnessed fraud against taxpayer-funded programs. In return, whistleblowers share 15 to 30 percent of the recovery. The U.S. intervened in the lawsuit in October of the same year. Mr. O’Donnell alleges Countrywide, a division of Bank of America, fraudulently ... Read More

Tuscaloosa to introduce new whistleblower policy and protections

The City of Tuscaloosa, Ala., will likely pass a new whistleblower policy as early as next week in an effort to better address fraud and other wrongdoing while protecting city employees and residents who report it from retaliation. According to the Tuscaloosa News, the city’s auditor, local accounting firm JamisonMoneyFarmer, recommended the creation of a new whistleblower policy to go with the formation of an internal auditor position that has been added to the city’s 2014 fiscal budget. In addition to accelerating the auditing process and keeping a close eye on how city employees and contractors use taxpayer dollars, the ... Read More

Whistleblowers seek sanctions against medical device maker Masimo for concealing evidence

Three former sales representatives for California-based Masimo Corporation, who sued the company under the False Claims Act for allegedly promoting its defective patient-monitoring devices for off-label purposes and then billing government insurance programs for them, have asked a California judge to sanction the company, saying it is concealing evidence in the case and interfering with subpoenas. The whistleblowers originally sued Massimo in October 2010 and amended their complaint in February 2011, alleging the company sold its Radical-7, Pronto, and Pront0-7 hemoglobin devices “despite the knowledge that the devices cannot measure hemoglobin … to the accuracy claimed by Masimo.” The company ... Read More