The heroes who attend this important international convocation already have proven their commitment to the public interest, at great risk and personal sacrifice. Congress and the public should listen carefully to what they have to say.
Washington, D.C (PRWEB) May 13, 2008
The International Association of Whistleblowers, whose members include hundreds of whistleblowers from across the globe, announced that whistleblowers "Lawyer of the Year," Michael I. Behn of Chicago, is delivering the keynote address to its annual assembly. The assembly is being held this week in our nation's capital.
Behn co-founded the law firm Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered, and was the first "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 state and federal False Claims Acts, against companies who have defrauded the government. Under qui tam provisions of federal and state False Claims Acts, whistleblowers can be entitled to legal protection and incentives of up to 30 percent of funds recovered for the government.
The whistleblowers' assembly is designed to organize support for a variety of initiatives to protect whistleblowers and deter fraudulent conduct, including the False Claims Correction Act of 2007. "This assembly gathers courageous heroes in the never-ending battle against crooks who steal from American taxpayers and endanger our nation's safety," said Behn. "The heroes who attend this important international convocation already have proven their commitment to the public interest, at great risk and personal sacrifice. Congress and the public should listen carefully to what they have to say."
Behn, a former federal prosecutor in New York City, will be introduced to the assembly by General Charles Henry (ret.), formerly the highest ranking military procurement officer in the United States. This year's speakers include John Schilling, a qui tam relator who helped achieve the largest False Claims Act recovery for the government; Jim Holzrichter, a qui tam relator represented by Behn, who successfully battled a major defense contractor for nearly two decades; and Dr. Janet Chandler, a qui tam relator who achieved a major victory in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 16-year Holzrichter case, which was the largest whistleblower settlement in Chicago, resulted in Northrop Grumman paying $134 million to resolve a False Claims Act case allegation involving the B-2 "Stealth" bomber. Behn, also one of Chandler's lawyers in her landmark False Claims Act case, which recovered millions from a county hospital, and established that municipal governments can be held accountable when they cheat the public.
This past March, Behn again garnered national attention for representing a pharmacist-whistleblower in the $37 million Medicaid fraud settlement with CVS pharmacies of a qui tam False Claims Act case. Details about that case and qui tam relator pharmacists can be found at PharmacyFraudSettlement.com.
In 2006, Behn also represented a pharmacist whistleblower in a False Claims Act case against the nation's largest pharmacy for nursing homes, Omnicare, which resulted in a $50 million Medicaid fraud settlement. Behn also has represented the American Association of Retired Persons ("AARP") before the Illinois Supreme Court in upholding the constitutionality of the Illinois False Claims Act. Further details cas be found at WhistleblowerAction.com.
When Behn was recognized as the whistleblowers' "Lawyer of the Year" by Taxpayers Against Fraud, the qui tam group lauded Behn's "tenacity, management skills and dedication" in his representation of relators under the False Claims Act.
Federal and state False Claims Acts protect private citizens with knowledge of fraud, and help the government recover ill-gotten gains and additional civil penalties. These statutes allow the government to collect up to three times the amount it was defrauded, in addition to civil penalties of $5,500 to $11,000 per false claim.