Chicago Whistleblower Lawyer Spotlights Federal Agencies’ Key Role in Fraud Prosecutions

“It’s a little known fact that government agencies are key to the successful prosecution of fraud cases," said Chicago whistleblower attorney Michael I. Behn.

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Government agency lawyers and investigators recently turned the tables by giving tips to whistleblowers and their lawyers about how best to assist the government in prosecuting fraud.

“It’s a little known fact that government agencies are key to the successful prosecution of fraud cases. They are the victims of the fraud, the witnesses, and the investigators,” said Michael I. Behn, who hosted a panel of agency representatives at a national meeting of whistleblowers and their lawyers. Behn, a former federal prosecutor, has been representing whistleblowers for decades. He founded the Behn & Wyetzner law firm and is of counsel to Siprut PC, both in Chicago. (http://www.BehnWyetzner.com and http://www.Siprut.com)

The panel consisted of federal agencies that are often involved in fraud prosecutions: (1) the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), which is responsible for ferreting out fraud, waste and abuse in all HHS programs; (2) the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs; (3) the General Services Administration, which provides centralized procurement for the federal government, and; (4) the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, the largest employee health care plan in the United States.

“Federal agencies have recovered billions in taxpayer funds that would otherwise have been lost to fraud,” said Behn. “These recoveries are based on the genius of the incentives provided to whistleblowers under laws known as the False Claims Acts.” Federal and state False Claims Acts allow private citizens with knowledge of fraud to help the government recover ill-gotten gains and additional civil penalties. Through "qui tam" provisions of False Claims Acts, private citizens are empowered to sue when they witness fraud against the government. These statutes allow the government to collect up to three times the amount defrauded, in addition to civil penalties of over $11,000 per false claim. Behn noted that whistleblowers, known as “qui tam relators,” can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the government's recovery. (See https://www.behnwyetzner.com/whistleblower-faqs/)

With the law firm Behn & Wyetzner, the government has achieved extensive recoveries for taxpayers through false claims actions brought on behalf of the firm’s whistleblower clients. Recent cases recovered over $120 million in multi-state Medicaid fraud settlements of drug switching allegations against Walgreens, CVS, and Omnicare. All three qui tam whistleblower cases were filed under federal and state False Claims Acts in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, Illinois, docket numbers 03 C 744 (Walgreens), 03 C 742 (CVS) and 01 C 7433 (Omnicare). The firm also represented the pharmacist in cases alleging that Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks to influence drug selections in nursing homes, which recovered over $170 million (D. Mass. 07 CV 10288-RGS). Other major cases have recovered hundreds of millions in taxpayer funds for fraud in defense contracting and other federally funded industries. (See https://www.behnwyetzner.com/whistleblower-compensation-awards/)

Siprut PC has been recognized for its “high-stakes, high-profile cases against large defendants.” Siprut PC was named to the National Law Journal “Hot List” of Plaintiffs’ law firms in 2016, one of only 12 law firms in the United States to receive this distinction. The firm’s primary litigation groups include false claims act litigation; plaintiffs’ class action litigation; and intellectual property and patent litigation; and business litigation. Spirit PC has recovered hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of plaintiffs in complex litigation, including millions of dollars on behalf of the government in whistleblower actions.

Further details about Behn & Wyetzner, Siprut PC, qui tam actions, relators, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, pharmaceutical and pharmacy fraud, and procurement fraud can be found at http://www.BehnWyetzner.com and http://www.Siprut.com.

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