by Brian Mahany
Political fraud is not my normal beat, but sometimes I just can’t resist. Like earlier today I was taking my afternoon walk, enjoying the warm temperatures and green trees in downtown Trenton, NJ. While on my walk I spotted this headline, “Ex-con makes NJ Senate run” in the Trentonian. While political corruption is an art form in ‘Jersey, the paper was still too good to pass up.
According to the paper, Thomas Greto is running for the New Jersey Senate. Better yet, he is running on a pro business platform. Only one small problem, Greto spent a couple years in the pen for deceptive business practices.
Prior to running for office in New Jersey, Greto ran for the Pennsylvania statehouse. He lost after mysteriously disappearing just before the election. From compiled reports in the Trentonian and the Philadelphia Enquirer, Greto went missing because he was locked up for embezzling $400,000 from associates in a failed business deal. Greto reportedly said he used some of that money to gamble in Atlantic City.
For his part, Greto says he doesn’t think his past is relevant to the race. Sadly, he may be right. Growing up I remember several Jersey City politicians running for office from jail or while out on bail.
If his extensive knowledge of the court system isn’t enough to qualify him for office consider this. He also filed bankruptcy in 2008. According the creditor matrix obtained from the bankruptcy court, Greto tried to name the Delaware County (PA) Domestic Relations agency as a creditor. DCDR is the county’s child support arm.
Public corruption is nothing new. In some states its more prevalent than others but corruption can be found wherever there is greed. And that’s pretty much everywhere.
What can you do? While its easy to shake your fist and say throw the bums out of office, it’s more fun to hit fraudsters where it hurts most. In the wallet.
For starters, the federal government and many states have False Claims acts, so called Qui Tam laws, that allow whistleblowers to collect a hefty chunk of any damages collected against those that rip off the government. Since 1996, Uncle Sam has paid out over $2 BILLION to whistleblowers.
The false claim laws don’t directly address the problem of corruption in government but any time you shine a light on a pack of thieves, they all scurry like rats. That includes the corrupt or incompetent bureaucrats who often allow the third party fraudsters to rip off taxpayers.
If you know a health care provider, government contractor or other business that is ripping off the government, let us know. We may able to help you collect a sizable piece of the pie for your efforts in rooting out corruption and fraud.
Want an example? In February 2008, pharmaceutical giant Merck paid $650 million to settle charges that it paid kickbacks to hospitals in order to induce them to prescribe certain drugs. (Merck denied the charge but still settled the case.) Although dozens of people had to be in on the scam, it just took one person coming forward.
Mahany & Ertl is a full service boutique law firm concentrating in fraud, asset recovery and whistleblower cases. Our false claims act attorneys can help you determine if you have a good case for damages and help you file it if you do. (You need a lawyer to file a whistleblower case in federal court.)
Mahany & Ertl, LLC. Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan & Portland, Maine.