by Brian Mahany
The federal false claims act was enacted during the Civil War to help a weak and struggling federal government recoup its losses from a multitude of government contractors who sold rancid rations, faulty gun powder and bad equipment to the Union Army. It’s purpose wasn’t to fight government corruption but in the story below, it’s easy to see the connections between the two.
Last week the Wall Street Journal reported on the rapid approval ratings drop of New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. The otherwise popular senator has been caught up in a false claims probe involving his friend Solomon Melgen, an eye doctor in Palm Beach. Published reports say the investigation began when a whistleblower stepped forward.
The feds are investigating whether Sen. Melendez frequented “young” prostitutes in the Dominican Republic and used his political influence to assist his physician friend. And the physician? The feds are investigating whether he overbilled Medicare for millions of dollars of medically unnecessary eye injections.
Yes unnecessary eye injections thus inflicting pain and risking complications by patients who didn’t need the treatment.
Whenever fraud occurs, it isn’t particularly surprising to find a corrupt politician nearby with his or her hand out. (Senator Melenedez denies most of the allegations against him but did admit to not reporting plane rides worth almost $60,000 supplied by Dr. Melgen.)
Whether or not there is any merit to the allegations remains to be seen. New Jersey voters, at least, are taking the issue seriously. As is the FBI.
The FBI can’t be everywhere, all the time. Whistleblowers serve an important role in identifying and correcting fraud. Medicare fraud, improper lending practices (the feds insure most home mortgages) and procurement fraud cause billions of dollars of losses each year to the government. And those losses mean higher taxes.
When fraud involves unnecessary medical procedures, the harm can be physical as well as economic.
If you know of fraud against the government, give us a call. Whistleblowers are entitled to share in whatever the government collects, up to 30%. The false claims act law, however, works on a “first in line” basis. If you are not the first to come forward, you won’t get an award.
False claims complaints are filed under seal meaning they are secret while the government investigates. Federal law also prohibits retaliation against whistleblowers.
For more information, contact attorney Brian Mahany. Our whistleblower lawyers are involved in a wide variety of cases from cases against hospitals to major banks and mortgage lenders. Brian can be reached at or by telephone at (direct). All calls are protected by the attorney – client privilege and kept in strict confidence.
Mahany & Ertl – America’s Fraud Lawyers. Offices in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Detroit, Michigan; Portland, Maine; Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Francisco, California. Fraud recovery available in many jurisdictions.
Need more information? Our Due Diligence blog has a search engine located in the upper right hand corner. For more information on specific fraud topics, just type in the key words such as “whistleblower” in the search bar. We have many informative articles on our site.