Chicago Whistleblower Attorney Michael I. Behn Spotlights Greater Role of State False Claims Acts and Qui Tam Actions at Rhode Island Bar Association Annual Meeting

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Whistleblowers lawyer Michael I. Behn of Chicago, Illinois, who represented the pharmacist relator in Medicaid fraud cases recovering over $120 million under federal and state False Claims Acts, will participate on a panel discussing the newly enacted Rhode Island state False Claims Act and other developments concerning whistleblower lawyers. Behn represents qui tam relators, such as pharmacists, doctors, nurses and auditors, in cases involving Medicare and Medicaid fraud, pharmaceutical and pharmacy fraud, defense contracting and procurement fraud, and other False Claims Act prosecutions. Federal and state False Claims Acts encourage private citizens with knowledge of Medicaid fraud, procurement fraud and other frauds against taxpayers to help the government recover ill-gotten gains and additional civil penalties. Behn noted that whistleblowers, known as "qui tam relators," can receive legal protection and up to 30 percent of the governments' recovery.

Michael I. Behn, of Behn & Wyetzner, Chicago, Illinois, will give a whistleblower lawyer's perspective on developments in state False Claims Acts at the Rhode Island Bar Association's Annual Meeting, in a panel discussion entitled "The New Rhode Island False Claims Act or How the State Stands to Recover from Fraud and Dishonesty in State Government Contracting." Other panelists will be Assistant RI Attorney General Cindy A. Soccio, Assistant US Attorney Adi Goldstein, Sanford V. Teplitzky, Esq., of Baltimore, MD, and moderator William M. Kolb, Esq. of Providence, RI.

Just last week, Behn again garnered national attention for representing a pharmacist-whistleblower in the $35 million multi-state Medicaid fraud settlement with Walgreens pharmacies of a qui tam False Claims Act case involving generic drug switching. Prior multi-state Medicaid fraud cases pursued by Behn and his pharmacist whistleblower client resulted in a $37 million qui tam settlement earlier this year with CVS Caremark Corp., owner of CVS pharmacies, and a $50 million qui tam settlement in late 2006 with Omnicare, Inc., the nation's largest pharmacy for nursing homes.

Court filings and other details about these cases and qui tam relator pharmacists can be found at the reference Web site, http://www.PharmacyFraudSettlement.com. All three qui tam whistleblower cases were filed under the False Claims Act in the U.S. District Court in Chicago, docket numbers 03 C 744 (Walgreens), 03 C 742 (CVS) and 01 C 7433 (Omnicare).

The Rhode Island panel highlights the increasing number of states that have sought to protect and incentivize whistleblowing relators to report Medicaid fraud, procurement fraud, and other frauds under the qui tam provisions of state False Claims Acts.

"There's a new era of state leadership in prosecuting Medicaid fraud under state False Claims Acts," said Behn, a former federal prosecutor in New York. "State Attorneys General are creating a potent force to combat Medicaid fraud by leading investigations with their federal colleagues, whistleblowers and whistleblowers' lawyers to protect taxpayers from liars, cheats and thieves."

Behn repeatedly has been recognized as a national expert in the multi-state prosecution of qui tam cases under federal and state False Claims Acts. For years, Behn has served on national panels with state and federal Medicaid fraud prosecutors to teach other whistleblower lawyers about working with state and federal governments in multi-jurisdictional qui tam prosecutions with relators.

Behn founded the Chicago, Illinois whistleblowers' law firm Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered, with his partner, employment-lawyer Linda Wyetzner. Behn was the first whistleblowers' "Lawyer of the Year" honoree by Washington, D.C.-based Taxpayers Against Fraud ("TAF"). TAF's members are attorneys and whistleblowers who pursue "qui tam" cases, under federal and state False Claims Acts, against companies that have defrauded the government, such as pharmacies and defense contractors. The qui tam lawyers' group lauded Behn's "tenacity, management skills and dedication" in his representation of relators under the False Claims Act.

The pharmacist whistleblower cases are among many successful qui tam actions brought under federal and state False Claims Acts by Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered in Chicago, Illinois and throughout the country. Behn represented the plaintiffs in the largest whistleblower settlement in Chicago and the largest settlement that year in Illinois, which resulted in Northrop Grumman paying $134 million to resolve qui tam claims involving the B-2 "Stealth" bomber. (N.D.IL No. 89 C 6111). Behn also represented the American Association of Retired Persons ("AARP") in a case upholding the constitutionality of Illinois' False Claims Act and its qui tam provisions before the state's Supreme Court (No. 97023).

Federal and state False Claims Acts encourage private citizens with knowledge of Medicaid fraud, procurement fraud and other frauds against taxpayers to help the government recover ill-gotten gains and additional civil penalties. These statutes allow the government to collect up to three times the amount defrauded, in addition to civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per false claim. Behn noted that whistleblowers, known as "qui tam relators," can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the governments' recovery.

Further details about Behn & Wyetzner, qui tam actions, relators, whistleblower protection, Medicare and Medicaid fraud, pharmaceutical and pharmacy fraud, procurement fraud, the federal False Claims Act, and state False Claims Acts can be found at http://www.WhistleblowerAction.com.

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