Chicago Qui Tam Attorney Michael I. Behn Highlights Increasing Role of State False Claims Acts at National Meeting of Whistleblower Lawyers

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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 moderate a panel discussing trends in state False Claims Act enforcement at a national conference of whistleblower's 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 state false claims act cases by whistleblowers, known as "qui tam relators," have dramatically increased the government's ability to prosecute Medicaid fraud. Under state laws, whistleblowers can receive legal protection and up to 30 percent of the governments' recovery.

Michael I. Behn, of Behn & Wyetzner, Chicago, Illinois, will address developments in state False Claims Acts at the annual conference of qui tam lawyers sponsored by Taxpayers Against Fraud in Washington, D.C. Behn will moderate a panel on the latest trends in multi-jurisdictional actions, emphasizing the ever increasing role that state qui tam investigations play in obtaining recoveries for Medicaid fraud. Other panelists are national experts on state prosecutions under false claims acts: James G. Sheehan, New York's Medicaid Inspector General; Susan J. Miller, Managing Attorney of the Texas Attorney General's Civil Medicaid Fraud Section; and Lelia Beck, Assistant Attorney General of the Virginia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Behn has represented whistleblowers in several successful multi-state qui tam actions, which obtained large recoveries for Medicaid fraud. Earlier this year, 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, the CBS News report and other details about these cases, qui tam relator pharmacists and multi-state qui tam actions for Medicaid fraud 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 Washington D.C. 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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