Chicago Whistleblower Lawyer Spotlights Federal Agencies’ Key Role in Fraud Prosecutions

“It’s a little known fact that government agencies are key to the successful prosecution of fraud cases,” said Chicago whistleblower attorney Michael I. Behn.

Government agency lawyers and investigators recently turned the tables by giving tips to whistleblowers and their lawyers about how best to assist the government in prosecuting fraud.

“It’s a little known fact that government agencies are key to the successful prosecution of fraud cases. They are the victims of the fraud, the witnesses, and the investigators,” said Michael I. Behn, who hosted a panel of agency representatives at a national meeting of whistleblowers and their lawyers. Behn, a former federal prosecutor, has been representing whistleblowers for decades. He founded the Behn & Wyetzner law firm and is of counsel to Siprut PC, both in Chicago. (http://www.BehnWyetzner.com and http://www.Siprut.com)

The panel consisted of federal agencies that are often involved in fraud prosecutions: (1) the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), which is responsible for ferreting out fraud, waste and abuse in all HHS programs; (2) the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs; (3) the General Services Administration, which provides centralized procurement for the federal government, and; (4) the Office of Personnel Management, which oversees the Federal Employee Health Benefit Plan, the largest employee health care plan in the United States.

“Federal agencies have recovered billions in taxpayer funds that would otherwise have been lost to fraud,” said Behn. “These recoveries are based on the genius of the incentives provided to whistleblowers under laws known as the False Claims Acts.” Federal and state False Claims Acts allow private citizens with knowledge of fraud to help the government recover ill-gotten gains and additional civil penalties. Through “qui tam” provisions of False Claims Acts, private citizens are empowered to sue when they witness fraud against the government. These statutes allow the government to collect up to three times the amount defrauded, in addition to civil penalties of over $11,000 per false claim. Behn noted that whistleblowers, known…

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