Do you have inside knowledge of fraud or false claims against the government? You could be in for a big cash award. America’s whistleblowers earned more than $392 million in fiscal year 2017 for helping the U.S. government reclaim $3.4 billion in stolen or misappropriated funds.
According to the Justice Department’s Civil Division, whistleblowers filed a total of 669 qui tam suits in 2017 – more than 12 cases per week on average. Over the past 31 years, whistleblowers have helped recover more than $56 billion by reporting fraud, waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars.
Many take home tens of millions of dollars, since federal and state False Claims Acts offer whistleblowers between 10% and 30% of any government recovery. Here, we take a look back at 10 of the top whistleblower awards of 2017.
Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC $350M Settlement
Six whistleblowers could split a cash award of between $35 million and $87.5 million after the government reached a $350 million settlement with Shire Pharmaceuticals LLC resolving allegations that Shire and an acquired company, Advanced BioHealing (ABH), paid illegal kickbacks to physicians and clinics for using a human skin substitute. Shire and ABH also allegedly made false statements to increase the price of the skin substitute and marketed it for uses that weren’t FDA approved.
Allied Home Mortgage $268M FCA / FIRREA Verdict
The estate of the late Allied branch manager and whistleblower, Peter Belli, could collect a cash award of up to $76 million after a Judge awarded the government over $268 million in a False Claims Act and Financial Institutions Reform, Recovery, and Enforcement Act of 1989 (FIRREA) violations case against Allied Home Mortgage Capital Corporation, Allied Home Mortgage Corporation, and Allied’s President and CEO, Jim Hodge. The trial presented evidence showing that Allied created more than 100 shadow branch offices to help hide thousands of falsely certified FHA loans.
Agility Public Warehousing Co. $95M Settlement
Kamal Mustafa Al-Sultan, a former vendor with Kuwaiti company, Agility Public Warehousing Co. KSC, received a $38.85 million whistleblower award as part of a $95 million settlement resolving claims that Agility intentionally overcharged the U.S. Department of Defense for food supplied to U.S. soldiers by failing to disclose supplier discounts and rebates.
Mylan Inc. $465M Settlement
Pharmaceutical manufacturer, Sanofi-Aventis US LLC received a whistleblower cash award of $38.7 million for helping the federal government recover $465 million in a settlement with drug manufacturer Mylan Inc. Sanofi-Aventis’ qui tam suit alleged that Mylan underpaid Medicaid drug rebates by misclassifying its brand name EpiPen as a generic drug in an attempt to avoid paying higher rebates, all the while increasing its EpiPen price by 400%.
Bechtel Corp. / URS Energy and Construction Inc. $125M Settlement
Whistleblowers Donna Busche, Gary Brunson and Walter Tamosaitis could share a cash award of between $12.5 million and $31.2 million for aiding the government in reaching a $125 million settlement resolving allegations that Bechtel Corp., Bechtel National Inc., URS Energy and Construction Inc. and URS Corp. failed to follow nuclear quality standards. Allegations also claimed the companies improperly used federal dollars to lobby Congress and charged the Department of Energy for deficient nuclear quality services, materials and tests.
eClinicalWorks $155M Settlement
Vermont software technician, Brendan Delaney, received a cash whistleblower award of around $30 million for reporting allegations that the national electronic health records software vendor, eClinicalWorks, misrepresented its health records software as compliant to gain certification. eClinicalWorks’ paid $155 million to resolve allegations that its software deficiencies caused physicians to submit false claims for federal incentive payments and that it paid illegal kickbacks to customers who promoted the software.
Life Care Centers of America Inc. $145M Settlement
Whistleblowers and former Life Care Centers of America Inc. employees, Tammie Taylor and Glenda Martin, received a cash award of $29 million for reporting allegations that Life Care caused skilled nursing facilities to bill the government for medically unnecessary, poor quality rehabilitation therapy services. Life Care also allegedly held Medicare beneficiaries longer than necessary in an attempt to get more money. At $145 million, this was the largest civil settlement with a skilled nursing facility chain in the history of the False Claims Act
CA Inc. $45M Settlement
Whistleblower Dani Shemesh, a former employee of CA Software Israel LTD, collected a $10.2 million award for helping the government reach a $45 million settlement against CA Inc. The settlement resolved allegations that CA Inc. gave false information to the General Services Administration (GSA) about customer discounts for software licenses and maintenance services and failed to give government customers additional discounts when commercial discounts improved.
PHH Mortgage $65M Settlement
Former PHH Mortgage employee, Mary Bozzelli, received a $9 million whistleblower award for reporting allegations that PHH misrepresented residential mortgages as FHA insurance eligible when they did not meet requirements. The government reached a $65 million settlement with PHH, saying the company increased mortgage profits at taxpayer expense and put people at risk for losing their homes.
ADS Inc. $16M Settlement
An anonymous whistleblower collected a $2.9 million award for blowing the whistle on ADS Inc. for allegedly knowingly causing small businesses to submit false claims for payment on fraudulently obtained small business contracts. At $16 million, this settlement was one of the largest recoveries involving alleged small business contracting eligibility fraud.
“Because those who defraud the government often hide their misconduct from public view, whistleblowers are often essential to uncovering the truth,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department’s recoveries this past year continue to reflect the valuable role that private parties can play in the government’s effort to combat false claims concerning government contracts and programs.”
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