Indianapolis, IN (PRWEB) April 28, 2009
Michael I. Behn, of Behn & Wyetzner, Chicago, Illinois, will give a whistleblower lawyer's perspective on successfully prosecuting defense contracting fraud at an annual training session sponsored by the United States Department of Defense. The training, attended by agents of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, is designed to foster working partnerships between whistleblowers, their lawyers and the government, through the provisions of the False Claims Act. The Defense Criminal Investigative Service protects American military services by investigating procurement fraud and other threats to national defense.
Behn and his whistleblower clients have worked closely with Department of Defense agents for over 15 years. Under the "qui tam" provisions of the False Claims Act, Behn represented successful whistleblowers in various defense contracting fraud cases, including a $134 million settlement against Northrop Grumman Corp. involving alleged false claims in the B-2 "Stealth" Bomber and other U.S. Air Force programs. (89C6111) Earlier this year, Behn also represented successful qui tam whistleblowers in a $15 million defense contracting fraud settlement with Chicago advertising agency Leo Burnett involving false claims to the Army in connection with the "Army of One" and other advertising campaigns. (04C3897) The "qui tam" provisions of the False Claims Act encourage citizens with knowledge of fraud against the government (called "relators") to work with government agents in prosecuting false claims.
Behn will be joined in the Department of Defense program by the qui tam relator who filed the Northrop Grumman case, Jim Holzrichter. Holzrichter reported apparent defense contract fraud at Northrop to Department of Defense agents while he was still employed by the company. In 1989, Holzrichter was one of the first qui tam relators to file suit under what were then "new" amendments to the False Claims Act, which were primarily designed to combat defense contracting fraud. Holzrichter and Behn worked together for over a decade in litigation against Northrop, overcoming numerous personal and legal obstacles before forcing the company to settle in 2005.
"Relators like Jim are courageous citizens who witness procurement fraud and other frauds against taxpayers, typically where they work, and have the integrity and fortitude to take action." said Behn. "These qui tam provisions in False Claims Act make it easier for whistleblowers to help the government prosecute defense contracting frauds." The False Claims Act allows the government to recoup up to three times the amount defrauded, plus significant civil penalties. Qui tam relators can receive between 15 and 30 percent of the governments' recovery.
The Department of Defense program highlights the role that whistleblowers play in protecting soldiers and taxpayers by encouraging citizens to detect and report defense contracting fraud. Whistleblowing "relators" can file their own lawsuits under "qui tam" provisions of state False Claims Acts, a centuries-old legal tool that empowers citizens to sue on behalf of the state. Qui tam lawsuits under state False Claims Acts have "returned billions to the government," says Behn.
"There's a strong history of Department of Defense cooperation with qui tam relators and attorneys to prosecute defense contracting fraud under the False Claims Acts," said Behn, a former federal prosecutor. "The Defense Criminal Investigative Service is a potent force combat procurement fraud by leading investigations with whistleblowers and whistleblowers' lawyers to protect taxpayers from liars, cheats and thieves."
Both Holzrichter and Behn have received national honors for their roles in aiding the government prosecution of defense contracting fraud. Holzrichter was honored as a "Whistleblower of the Year," for creating a mentoring program for relators after succeeding in his arduous battle with Northrop. Behn had also been honored as the first whistleblowers' "Lawyer of the Year" 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. The qui tam lawyers' group lauded Behn's "tenacity, management skills and dedication" in his representation of Holzrichter and other relators under the False Claims Act.
Last year, Behn again garnered national attention for representing a pharmacist-whistleblower in a $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 last 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 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).
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-state qui tam prosecutions with relators. Behn founded the Chicago, Illinois whistleblowers' law firm Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered, with his partner, employment-lawyer Linda Wyetzner, who was formerly an attorney for the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists.
Behn & Wyetzner is part of the Whistleblower Action Network, a team of attorneys who have dedicated their law practices to representing citizens-whistleblowers willing to help state and federal government efforts to fight fraud. Whistleblower Action attorneys include Steven H. Cohen of the Cohen Law Group in Chicago, Illinois, and L. Timothy Terry of The Terry Law Firm of Carson City, Nevada. Cohen and Terry have also achieved prominence in prosecuting qui tam actions under state False Claims Acts. Last year, Cohen represented the relator in a $400 million multi-state Medicaid fraud settlement with Merck Inc. involving the drugs Vioxx® and Zocor® (EDPA 00CV6158). Terry, during his 17 year tenure as a Medicaid fraud prosecutor with Nevada Attorney General's office, served as President of the National Association of Medicaid Fraud Control Units, the organization uniting all state Medicaid fraud prosecutors.
Further details about the Whistleblower Action Network, 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.