Yesterday, a delegation from the Republic of Armenia visited the National Whistleblower Center (NWC) for a presentation about best practices to fight corruption and the implementation of whistleblower laws. The visit was facilitated by the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), an initiative of the U.S. Department of State.

Attendees from the delegation included representatives from Armenia’s criminal court system (including both a lead judge and prosecutor), the Judicial Department, the Council of Justice, and the Ministry of Justice.

Continue Reading Delegation from Armenia Visits the National Whistleblower Center

As a young attorney, Jeffrey Wertkin joined the Department of Justice where he investigated and litigated False Claims Act cases filed by whistleblowers. After six years fighting fraud for the government, working side by side with whistleblowers, Wertkin made the jump to the prestigious corporate law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld.

Continue Reading Former DOJ Lawyer Goes Rogue, Turns Criminal

On Monday, August 1st, four federal agencies celebrated National Whistleblower Day with an event sponsored by the Senate Whistleblower Protection Caucus. This was the first time any federal agencies have ever recognized Whistleblower Day, although the U.S. Senate has passed a resolution four years in a row proclaiming July 30th as National Whistleblower Day.

Continue Reading Agency Leaders Praise Whistleblowers, Express Need for Reforms

Ruling in Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar will have major impact in government contract fraud cases.

Washington, D.C. April 19, 2016. The U.S. Supreme Court heard Oral Argument today in a landmark whistleblower case, Universal Health Services v. U.S. ex rel. Escobar, arising under the False Claims Act.  The Escobar case will determine how specific government contracts must be to hold fraudsters accountable.

At issue is whether a contractor violates the False Claims Act when it submits a claim for payment to the government by implying that it complied with all material terms of a contract or regulation when, in fact, it did not.  In this case, the defendant submitted claims for payment to Medicaid to compensate doctors even though no licensed doctors provided any services.

Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument in Landmark Whistleblower False Claims Act Case

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.

On July 8, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a final rule regarding its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regulations. The SEC was considering imposing a 30-day time limit in which to file an appeal under FOIA. Instead, the SEC extended the time frame to 90 days.

National Whistleblower Center General Counsel David K. Colapinto submitted comments to the SEC regarding the proposed 30-day time limit. The SEC refers to Mr. Colapinto’s submission in the discussion of the final rule stating that he, “objected to the imposition of a 30 day time frame in which to file an appeal as too short and asserted that it ‘does not afford individuals (such as whistleblowers and individual investors) sufficient time to find legal representation or to file a substantive appeal.’” Continue Reading Deadline for FOIA Appeals at SEC Extended to 90 days

In a significant pro-whistleblower decision yesterday, the Tax Court in a decision 144 TC 15 (Whistleblower 21276-13W v. IRS) made it clear that the IRS couldn’t deny a whistleblower an award because they filed a request for an award after the IRS had collected the fines and penalties from the targeted business.  The whistleblowers’ extensive cooperation with IRS and law enforcement agents was directly responsible for the IRS collecting a large monetary penalty from the targeted business.  Shortly after the IRS successfully concluded its case against the targeted business the whistleblowers filed a claim for an award under the IRS whistleblower program citing their extensive assistance to the IRS during the investigation.

The lead counsel representing the whistleblower in Tax Court was National Whistleblower Center (NWC) advisor Dean Zerbe of ZFFJ law firm. NWC Executive Director Stephen M. Kohn and NWC General Counsel David K. Colapinto were also counsel for the whistleblowers. This is the first evidentiary trial for tax whistleblowers that has been held by the Tax Court.

Continue Reading Tax Court Delivers Victory For Tax Whistleblowers

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is under pressure to fix it’s broken whistleblower process. In February 2015, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported that whistleblower protections at the FBI are weaker than at any other agency. The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing in March and whistleblower advocacy groups are calling for change.

The GAO Report found that the Department of Justice’s FBI whistleblower process leaves FBI whistleblowers without protection from retaliation, and creates a chilling effect. The GAO also found that it could take over 10 years for a simple case to be completed through the FBI process.

FBI employee Robert Kobus is one such whistleblower. In October 2005 Mr. Kobus reported budget and time card fraud in his office. It was a simple case, and fully documented. The retaliation he faced was swift – the FBI stripped him of his duties and literally isolated him by assigning him to work as the only person on a vacant floor amongst 130 empty desks.  Continue Reading NPR Highlights FBI Whistleblower’s 10-Year Road to Vindication

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