Whistleblower Protection Blog

Whistleblower Protection Blog

Advocating Whistleblower Rights for over Twenty Years

NWC weighs in on protecting the rights of attorney-whistleblowers

Posted in Corporate Whistleblowers, News
NWC weighs in on protecting the right of attorney-whistleblowers

Today, corporations are on the move to conceal waste, fraud, bribery and corruption simply by having managers wear a lawyer hat on top of their management cap.  The battle to protect in-house lawyers from retaliation for blowing the whistle internally or as permitted by federal whistleblower protection laws is of great concern. 

Yesterday, the National Whistleblower Center submitted a public comment to proposed ethics opinion 13-005 of the California State Bar. If issued the proposed opinion could bar most attorney-whistleblower claims. Whistleblower-attorneys could be barred from disclosing information that is already publicly available, such as information contained in SEC filings.

The NWC submitted its comment seeking to ensure that attorney-whistleblower rights are fully protected. The NWC recommended that the CA State Bar revise the proposed opinion “to explicitly address and carve out an exception for attorney-whistleblowers and be further refined to address and adopt the public policy considerations found in emerging federal common law and federal statutory protections.”

Related links:

NWC Public Comment on Proposed Ethics Opinion 13-005

CA State Bar Proposed Ethics Opinion 13-005

Whistleblower reinstated after two-year suspension credits assistance from National Whistleblower Center

Posted in International
Danko Bogdanović

On June 4, 2015, Danko Bogdanović was reinstated as of Chief of Customs office of Brcko, BiH, after a two-year suspension for reporting corruption in the Indirect Taxation Authority.

Bogdanović, reported corruption to the Agency for prevention and coordination of fight against corruption (IPAK). The Center for Responsible Democracy LUNA assisted Bogdanović in filing an application under the Law on the protection of persons who report corruption in the institutions of BiH. After thoroughly analyzing the case, IPAK granted Bogdanović protected status in early 2014. Despite Bogdanović’s status as a protected applicant he remained suspended from his job. Continue Reading

June 2015 False Claims Act Settlements, Part 1

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam
Mortgage fraud, false claims act

The Department of Justice announced settlements in the following False Claims Act lawsuits:

First Tennessee Bank N.A. Agrees to Pay $212.5 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Liability Arising from FHA-Insured Mortgage Lending

First Tennessee Bank N.A. has agreed to pay the United States $212.5 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by knowingly originating and underwriting mortgage loans insured by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Federal Housing Administration (FHA) that did not meet applicable requirements, the Justice Department announced.  First Tennessee is headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.  Continue Reading

Watch the National Whistleblower Day Celebration Online

Posted in News
Senator Chuck Grassley speaks to a packed room on National Whistleblower Day.

Did you miss the National Whistleblower Day Celebration on July 30? Or perhaps you would like to relive the historic day? The first Congressional celebration of National Whistleblower Day is now available to watch online.

The National Whistleblower Center has now uploaded videos of the event at www.nationalwhistleblowerday.org. Viewers can choose to watch the entire full-length video or individual videos of the different speakers. There is also a photo gallery available to view.

FBI Crime Lab’s Flawed Hair Analyses Featured on Fault Lines

Posted in FBI Whistleblowers, Forensic Justice
Dr. Frederic Whitehurst appears on Fault Lines to discuss flawed FBI Hair Analyses.

Did you know that you can take two strands of hair from your own head and they may not match? Yet the FBI used forensic hair analyses for decades in the prosecution of criminal cases.  Last night Al Jazeera America’s Fault Lines program featured this issue.  FBI Whistleblower, Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, appeared in “Under the Microscope: The FBI Hair Cases” and discussed the flaws in the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation crime lab’s hair analyses. 

As head of the National Whistleblower Center’s Forensic Justice Project, Dr. Whitehurst compiled data from cases in which the FBI had given flawed testimony on hair analysis and compared that to the information that was released by the FBI and DOJ under FOIA. Dr. Whitehurst first raised these systemic problems at the FBI Lab more than 20 years ago.

In April 2015 the FBI admitted the FBI Lab’s forensic hair analyses used for decades in state and federal criminal cases were flawed and inaccurate more that ninety percent (90%) of the time. The recent reviews reported by the Washington Post in April were the direct result of Dr. Whitehurst’s initial whistleblower disclosures between 1995-1997.  Although Dr. Whitehurst was highly criticized and subjected to severe retaliation by the FBI for raising these concerns more 20 years ago, the admission by the FBI demonstrates that he was right. 

Also appearing on the program was David K. Colapinto, General Counsel of the National Whistleblower Center who has served as Dr. Whitehurst’s attorney for the past 20+ years.

Attorney David K. Colapinto discusses the FBI Crime Lab's flawed hair analyses.







Click photo to play video preview.

Al-Jazeera will replay this program on Sunday, August 23 at 9pm ET and Monday, August 24 at 1 am and 4:30 am ET.

Click here to read previous blogs on this issue.

May 2015 False Claims Act Settlements, Part 2

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam, News

The Department of Justice announced settlements in the following False Claims Act lawsuits:

Government Settles False Claims Act Allegations against Florida Neurologist for $150,000

Dr. Sean Orr of Jacksonville, Florida, has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle allegations that he violated the False Claims Act by providing medically unnecessary services and drugs to federal health care program beneficiaries, the Department of Justice announced.  Dr. Orr is a neurologist formerly employed by Baptist Neurology Inc. and Baptist Medical Center-Jacksonville. Continue Reading

SEC Says Employees Protected For Internal Whistleblowing

Posted in Corporate Whistleblowers
SEC Says Employees Protected For Internal Whistleblowing

On August 4, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) issued an interpretive rule to dispel confusion over whether employees who only report violations to their employer are protected by the Dodd-Frank whistleblower protection provision. The SEC will formally publish this interpretative rule in the Federal Register and it will operate as an amendment to the Dodd-Frank whistleblower rules. A copy of the SEC’s interpretative ruling can be found here. Continue Reading

Senator Grassley Thanks Whistleblowers

Posted in Events, News

On July 30, National Whistleblower Day, Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, released a video on his YouTube channel in recognition of National Whistleblower Day in which he thanked whistleblowers for risking “their careers to bring about a better quality of government.”

Continue Reading

Senators Honor Whistleblowers at First Congressional Celebration of National Whistleblower Day

Posted in Events, News
Sen. Ron Johnson addresses gathering of whistleblowers and advocates at the first Congressional celebration of National Whistleblower Day. Photo credit: Tom Wolfe

On July 30, the U.S. Senate’s Kennedy Caucus Room was packed with whistleblowers, their families and whistleblower advocates as six senators and one representative each gave moving remarks in recognition of National Whistleblower day. This event, hosted by the National Whistleblower Center, marked the first Congressional celebration of National Whistleblower Day. The commemoration of July 30th as National Whistleblower Day recognizes the passage of the first ever whistleblower law that date in 1778, as well as the crucial role whistleblowers play today in defending our nation from waste, fraud and abuse. Continue Reading

Appeals Court Rules That KBR Can Keep Evidence Of Contract Fraud Secret

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam

Washington, DC. August 11, 2015. Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit granted a petition filed by the defense contractor Kellogg Brown & Root, Inc. (“KBR”) and ordered that internal company documents containing evidence that the company defrauded the U.S. government during the War in Iraq can remain secret.

The controversy over the release of the documents commenced in 2014 when a U.S. District Court judge ordered KBR to produce documents the company created during an internal investigation into whistleblower allegations raised by Mr. Harry Barko, a former sub-contracts administrator for the company.   The District Court judge privately reviewed the contested documents and concluded that they contained evidence of fraud. In it’s ruling the Court held:

KBR’s documents are filled with evidence that certain KBR employees steered contracts to Daoud [a KBR subcontractor]; are filled with evidence that Daoud gave lousy and late contract performance; and are filled with evidence that KBR nevertheless overpaid Daoud with United States funds.” District Court Ruling, p. 16. Continue Reading