[February 2019, new Aramark content for employees and whistleblowers posted, see link.] We have posted several stories about Aramark Correctional Services and their food service contract with the Michigan Department of Corrections. In what was billed as a cost saving move, Aramark received a $145 million contract to take over food service in the state’s prison system. Since the contract was signed in 2013, the company has been mired in controversy and claims of unsafe food practices.
This week lunch was interrupted at the state prison in Jackson after maggots were discovered in raw potatoes being prepared for inmates. The warden says the problem was discovered before any food was served and that the kitchen was immediately closed and cleaned. Not so, however, says Progress Michigan, a frequent opponent of the state’s contract with Aramark.
The Detroit News reports that a representative from Progress Michigan says they have information that some of the maggot infested potatoes were cooked and served to inmates.
Wherever the truth may be, prison privatization is a frequent source of whistleblower complaints under state and federal False Claims Act. These laws allow whistleblowers to receive an award based on how much money is collected from wrongdoers.
A mere breach of contract wouldn’t trigger most of these statutes but fraudulent billing does. With so many states now privatizing prison healthcare, prison food service and even the prisons themselves, we expect to see more false claims cases. Ironically, bringing such a case in Michigan may be difficult. Michigan’s state whistleblower law is limited to Medicaid fraud claims.
Unless federal dollars are involved, Michigan whistleblowers are more limited in the cases they can bring.
If you work in a private prison or have knowledge of billing fraud at a state or federal prison, you may be entitled to a cash award. Work in the food service industry and have information about adulterated food? Visit our food service whistleblower information page. Under federal law, a whistleblower with inside, original source knowledge of fraud typically receives 16% of whatever the government collects.
MahanyLaw – America’s Whistleblower Lawyers