Whistleblower Protection Blog

Whistleblower Protection Blog

Advocating Whistleblower Rights for over Twenty Years

SEC Whistleblower Awards List August 2014

Posted in News

The SEC Office of the Whistleblower post Notices of Covered Action where a final judgment or order, by itself or together with other prior judgments or orders in the same action issued after July 21, 2010, results in monetary sanctions exceeding $1 million.Subject to the Final Rules, individuals who voluntarily provided the Commission with original information after July 21, 2010 that led to the successful enforcement of a covered action listed below are eligible to apply for a whistleblower award.Once a Notice of Covered Action is posted, individuals have 90 calendar days to apply for an award.

View the updated list below: Continue Reading

IRS Whistleblower Office News

Posted in Tax Whistleblowers

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen issued an August 2014 policy statement expressing his strong support for the work the IRS Whistleblower Office.  We hope that the IRS will act in conformance with this policy statement and aggressively support whistleblowers.

The full text of this policy statement is linked here.

On August 20, 2014,  the IRS Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, John Dalrymple, released a memo in which he shared the results of a comprehensive review of the IRS Whistleblower Office operating guidelines. The purpose of the review was to improve the timeliness and quality of decisions as the Service evaluates and acts on whistleblower information.  Continue Reading

WMATA Pays $5.6 Million to Settle False Claims Act and Whistleblower Retaliation Suits

Posted in News

Washington, D.C. August 20, 2014.  The Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) has paid $5.6 million to the United States, the District of Columbia, and Shahiq Khwaja to resolve whistleblower claims brought by Mr. Khwaja under the federal and District of Columbia False Claims Acts, and under the anti-retaliation provisions of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, among other laws.

Attorneys for Mr. Khwaja, David Colapinto of Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto, LLP and Geoffrey H. Simpson of Webster & Fredrickson, PLLC, view the settlement as a vindication for Mr. Khwaja, who brought suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and filed an administrative complaint in the Department of Transportation in 2012.

David Colapinto, one of Mr. Khawaja’s attorneys said: “In this case, Mr. Khwaja tried to correct False Claims Act violations at WMATA before they occurred to save the taxpayers money, but he was retaliated against and fired for blowing the whistle internally. The government would not have recovered these funds on behalf of the taxpayers without Mr. Khwaja stepping forward. This settlement demonstrates that the False Claims Act is the most effective whistleblower law by restoring money to taxpayers and by protecting employees who report False Claims Act violations.”

According to Geoffrey Simpson, another of Mr. Khwaja’s attorneys, “this settlement is testament to Mr. Khwaja’s courage. Mr. Khwaja spoke out while employed by WMATA and continued to blow the whistle internally even in the face of resistance and hostility from his superiors. Without his fortitude, these claims would never have come to light.”

Related Link: DOJ Press Release

For Information Contact-
David Colapinto (202) 342-6980
Geoffrey Simpson (202) 659-8510

Senators Seek Release of FBI Whistleblower Report

Posted in Government Whistleblowers

On Tuesday, August 12, 2014, Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Wyden sent a letter to President Obama pressing him to release a report on effectiveness of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) regulations for protecting whistleblowers.  President Obama requested the report from the Attorney General almost two years ago.  The report “Protecting Whistleblowers with Access to Classified Information,” is 14-months overdue.  The Senators learned that the report was delivered to the President on June 2, 2014. Their letter stresses the importance of the Attorney General’s findings to Congress as they consider “any legislation related to this topic.”

“The FBI has a history of whistleblower retaliation, often shunning whistleblowers to basement offices without cause and giving them little or no work,” Grassley said in a press release Tuesday.  “It’s disturbing to see the trend continue in the most recent allegations of a new retaliation method called Loss of Effectiveness orders being used against whistleblowers at the agency.  The mentality at the FBI has to change if waste, fraud and abuse are ever to be rooted out of the agency.”

“Whistleblowers play a critical role in holding the government and its employees accountable,” Wyden added. “The FBI has had special rules for its own employees for decades that desperately need to be updated. It’s important for the Justice Department to explain whether they will fix this on their own, or if Congress needs to step in.”

Links:
Senator’s Letter to President
Previous post on FBI Whistleblowers

Video Interview: Reflecting on Dodd-Frank at Four Years Old, with LXBN TV

Posted in Corporate Whistleblowers

Following up on my recent post on the matter, I had the opportunity to discuss the Dodd-Frank Act with Colin O’Keefe of LXBN. In the brief interview, I share my thoughts on the impact of Dodd-Frank Act just past its four year anniversary and explain why financial reform is still very much under attack.

Whistleblowers Recover $98.15 Million for U. S. Taxpayers

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam, News

Yesterday, the Justice Department announced that Community Health Systems, Inc., the nation’s largest operator of acute care hospitals, has agreed to pay $98.15 to settle multiple lawsuits against it filed under the False Claims Act. Nine whistleblowers stepped forward to report “a deliberate corporate-driven scheme” to bilk the U.S. taxpayers of millions of dollars.

This settlement illustrates the government’s emphasis on combating health care fraud and marks another achievement for the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) initiative, which was announced in May 2009 by Attorney General Eric Holder and the Secretary of Health and Human Services.  The partnership between the two departments has focused efforts to reduce and prevent Medicare and Medicaid financial fraud through enhanced cooperation.  One of the most powerful tools in this effort is the False Claims Act.  Since January 2009, the Justice Department has recovered a total of more than $20.2 billion through False Claims Act cases, with more than $14 billion of that amount recovered in cases involving fraud against federal health care programs.

For more information on this settlement see the DOJ Press Release.

Man Wrongfully Convicted by Perjured FBI Testimony Freed After 28 Years in Prison; Donald Eugene Gates Released on Basis of New DNA Evidence

Posted in News

The following is from guest contributor Jon C. Hopwood.
This article was originally published in 2009 on Yahoo Voice and is reprinted here by permission of the author.

Summary: Donald Eugene Gates, who was convicted of the 1982 rape-murder of a Caucasian college coed, was released on the basis of new DNA evidence.

Donald Eugene Gates, a 58 year-old African American wrongfully convicted in 1982 of the rape-murder of Caucasian college coed Catherine Schilling, was freed by the D.C. Superior Court after a DNA test revealed that he could not be the culprit.

The prosecution of Gates was heavily dependent on the testimony of F.B.I. Crime Lab analyst Michael P. Malone, who testified that two hairs found on Schilling’s body came from an African American male. Schilling, who was a student at Georgetown University, was murdered in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. in 1981.

Gates, who has always maintained that he was innocent of the crime, had been imprisoned for nearly 30 years until ordered release by Senior Judge Fred B. Ugast. Ugast had overseen his trial back in 1982.

In 1988, Ugast had ordered a DNA test of the evidence used to convict Gates, but DNA testing a generation ago was primitive. The more sophisticated DNA testing of the 21st Century proved that Gates was right: He was innocent.

Crime Lab Corruption

Since the Gates trial, former F.B.I. agent Michael Malone has become notorious as an unreliable and unethical expert witness who likely committed perjury in hundreds of trials. Dr. Frederic Whitehurst of the National Whistleblower Center’s Forensic Justice Project first revealed the widespread corruption at the F.B.I. Crime Lab back in 1993, when he, too, was an F.B.I. employee.   Continue Reading

Senator Grassley Steps Forward Once Again to Defend Whistleblowers

Posted in False Claims / Qui Tam, News
Senator Grassley

Senator Grassley

On July 30, 2014, the House Judiciary Committee Constitution and Civil Justice Subcommittee held a hearing on proposals by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to substantially weaken the False Claims Act (FCA). The FCA is the most effective whistleblower law and allows those with evidence of fraud against federal programs or contracts to sue the wrongdoer on behalf of the United States Government. Employees are in the best position to witness fraud and report it to the government.

The Chamber has launched an attack to weaken the FCA because the FCA is effective at combat corporate wrongdoing, and whistleblower claims under the FCA help the U.S. Government recover about $4 billion a year from U.S. government contractors who cheat the taxpayers by double billing the government or committing other frauds.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, submitted written testimony countering the validity of the Chamber’s so-called “reforms” to the FCA. The Chamber’s proposals would force whistleblowers to report internally before they can bring a claim under the FCA and reduce penalties for corporate wrongdoing under the. Kohn noted that the Chamber’s proposals, as outlined in the National Whistleblowers Center’s report, “Saving America’s ‘Most Important Tool to Uncover and Punish Fraud,’” taken together, would cripple a key “tool” for uncovering and punishing fraud against the taxpayers.

Kohn’s written testimony warned that the Chamber’s bid to create incentives for companies to enhance corporate internal compliance programs and its vision of how these programs work is “highly misleading”.   Continue Reading

Who is Michael P. Malone? Corrupt F.B.I. Agent’s Testimony Sent Innocent Man to Prison; Donald Eugene Gates was Convicted of Rape-Murder He Did Not Commit

Posted in News

The following is from guest contributor Jon C. Hopwood.
This article was originally published in 2009 on Yahoo Voice and is reprinted here by permission of the author.

Summary:  The testimony of Special Agent Michael P. Malone was instrumental in convicting Donald Eugene Gates of a rape-murder he did not commit. Gates was exonerated but scores of others convicted with Malone’s testimony are still in jail.

The testimony of Special Agent Michael P. Malone, an employee of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Lab, was instrumental in convicting Donald Eugene Gates of a rape-murder he did not commit. After spending 27 years in prison, Gates was exonerated by a federal judge who denounced Malone and excoriated the Federal government for not revealing to him in a timely manner that Malone’s testimony amounted to perjury.

The Washington Post, in its lead editorial on Friday, December 18, 2009, lambasted the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia for failing to report that it knew that Malone’s testimony was bogus. Donald Gates finally achieving justice, but scores of others convicted with Malone’s testimony are still in jail.

“Justice Delayed”

Donald Eugene Gates, a 58 year-old African American wrongfully convicted in 1982 of the rape-murder of Caucasian college coed Catherine Schilling, was exonerated by D.C. Superior Court Senior Judge Fred B. Ugast on December 18, 2009. Ugast, the judge who oversaw Gates’ original trial, had earlier freed him after a DNA test revealed that he could not be the man who killed Schilling.

Due to the improper conduct of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the Gates case, Schilling’s rapist-killer remains free.

The prosecution of Gates was heavily dependent on the testimony of F.B.I. Crime Lab analyst Michael P. Malone, an F.B.I. agent, who testified that two hairs found on Schilling’s body came from an African American male. Schilling, a Georgetown University student, was murdered in 1981.

The Washington Post, in the lead editorial in its Friday edition that came out before Ugast exonerated Gates, quoted a statement Gates made at the time of his trial, 27 years ago: “I didn’t kill her. I never saw her. I am sorry she died, because her death has ruined my life.”  Continue Reading

Senate Approves “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day” for Second Year

Posted in News

On July 30, 2014, by a unanimous resolution the U.S. Senate declared July 30 as “National Whistleblower Appreciation Day” for the second year in row.   The resolution comes on the anniversary of the first ever whistleblower protection law enacted on July 30, 1778.

Stephen M. Kohn, Executive Director of the National Whistleblower Center, first discovered the importance of this date to whistleblowers.  Fifteen years ago, while conducting research for an amicus brief filed by the NWC supporting the constitutionality of the False Claims Act, Kohn discovered a resolution passed by the Continental Congress. The resolution, enacted on July 30, 1778, can be considered the world’s first whistleblower law.  Kohn then carefully researched why our Founding Fathers enacted the resolution, and learned the details of America’s first whistleblower case.  He reviewed the letters the whistleblowers wrote in jail pleading their case to the revolutionary Congress.  He obtained from the National Archives a copy of the check the Continental Congress wrote to Sam Adams, honoring Congress’ agreement to pay the costs of the whistleblowers’ defense.  Continue Reading