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taxpayers 6 articles

Maryland Woman Pleads Guilty to Medicare, Medicaid Fraud

A Maryland woman pleaded guilty to federal health care fraud charges for a scheme in which she falsely represented herself to be a medical equipment vendor for New York-based Medicare and Medicaid management programs. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Suzanna Meliksetyan, 28, of Gaithersburg, Maryland, purported to operate multiple durable medical equipment companies so that she could submit bogus claims to Healthfirst, a non-profit, New York-based health maintenance organization that administers Medicare Advantage plans and New York Medicaid Managed Care plans. As part of her guilty plea, Ms. Meliksetyan admitted that she operated a number of scam medical ... Read More

Judge allows whistleblower case against global trucking firm to proceed

COLUMBIA, S.C. — A U.S. District Judge in South Carolina said Tuesday a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act against a global trucking firm may proceed to trial. The lawsuit seeks millions of dollars from Covan Worldwide Moving, a Midland City, Ala.-based company that ships the household belongings of military and civilian personnel around the world. In a Tuesday hearing, Judge Joe Anderson dismissed part of the lawsuit that accuses Covan of engaging “in an intracorporate conspiracy” to defraud the U.S. government, citing insufficient evidence that the company conspired with other businesses to carry out its scheme on ... 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

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

Abbott to pay $1.5 billion for illegally promoting Depakote, thanks to whistleblower lawsuits

Abbott Laboratories has pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $1.5 billion to resolve criminal and civil charges for fraudulently promoting its anti-seizure drug Depakote for a number of unapproved, off-label purposes. The near-record payout, the second largest by a drug company according to the U.S. Justice Department, also resolves four whistleblower lawsuits brought against Abbott Laboratories under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the United States and share a percentage of funds recovered. Deputy U.S. Attorney General James M. Cole said Monday’s settlement “shows further evidence of our deep commitment to public health ... Read More

Florida bill lets automakers off hook, burdens taxpayers

Last month, the Florida State Senate approved a bill that makes it much more difficult for people harmed by automotive defects to hold carmakers responsible for their injuries. The legislation, which the St. Petersburg Times considers to be the latest attack in the “interminable war” waged by Republican legislators against trial lawyers, will actually hurt Floridians by removing liability for car crash victims from carmakers and placing it on the shoulders of Florida taxpayers. The Crashworthiness Doctrine mandates that because vehicular crashes are inevitable, automakers must be held to a duty to keep the safety of crash victims in mind ... Read More