Earlier this month, the Department of Justice announced its plans to enhance and fortify the review process upon receipt of a complaint filed under the False Claims Act. Complaints, which are filed confidentially and under seal, often set forth highly-specific and complex fact patterns detailing years-long abuse of federal or state funds. One of the primary areas targeted by the False Claims Act involves fraud against the Medicare and Medicaid systems, and prosecutors have uncovered billions of dollars over the past several years from deceitful and dishonest healthcare providers. Moving forward, the Department has promised to implement even deeper checks and reviews of qui tam complaints to determine if a defendant’s actions rise to the level of criminal culpability.
New Review Procedures
In a speech made during the annual Taxpayers Against Fraud Education Fund conference, Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division Leslie R. Caldwell explained the new review procedures to follow the filing of any False Claims Act complaint. In her speech, Ms. Caldwell described the criminal division’s plans to “redouble [its] efforts” in order to work alongside civil attorneys and whistleblower lawyers to bring fraud to light.
Under the new procedure, all new qui tam complaints will be immediately shared between the Civil and Criminal divisions, allowing experienced fraud prosecutors the opportunity to review the facts and determine whether a parallel criminal investigation is warranted. From there, criminal prosecutors will coordinate with the DOJ’s Civil Division and U.S. Attorney’s Offices about the best course of action for each filing – particularly if a certain case requires additional investigative support. Ms. Caldwell reiterated the tremendous amount of investigative support already underlying the Criminal Division, including fraud investigators from the FBI, Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General, and the Postal Inspection service – to name a few.
In her speech, Ms. Caldwell also outlined the breadth of experience held by the Criminal Division in successfully prosecuting fraud cases parallel to the Civil Division, and pointed to the Department’s accomplishments in working alongside other regulatory agencies, including the SEC.
According to current policy, the Civil Division is already tasked with overseeing the resolution of False Claims Act cases with damages estimated at $1 million or more, notwithstanding its ability to intervene in those cases deemed most likely to succeed. Under the new policies, the Criminal Division will be added into the analysis sooner, allowing for a more streamlined and efficient approach to the review and disposition of False Claims Act cases.
In 2013, the Department of Justice recovered nearly $4 billion from cases filed under the False Claims Act – some of which involved a parallel criminal prosecution.
Contact an Experienced Whistleblower Attorney Today
If you are considering a False Claims Act lawsuit, the attorneys of Berger Montague can help you better understand the process, file your confidential claim, and work with you through the completion of your case. As Ms. Caldwell reiterated at the conclusion of her speech, “[t]he courageous efforts by relators to bring criminal and civil misconduct to light have driven many of the largest and most important health care fraud investigations over the last several decades.”
If you are ready to get started on your case, whether it involves healthcare, defense, or general contracting fraud, please contact us right away.