The Federal False Claims Act (“FCA”) dates back to the year 1863, when it was enacted because of defense contractor fraud that occurred during the Civil War. Today it is used in many situations, particularly in allegations of healthcare fraud brought by the government. The FSA sets forth criminal and civil penalties for falsely billing the federal government, for over-representing the amount of product supplied, or for understating an obligation to the government. The False Claims Act may be enforced either by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) or by private individuals.
18 USC 287 provides:
Whoever makes or presents to any person or officer in the civil, military, or naval service of the United States, or to any department or agency thereof, any claim upon or against the United States, or any department or agency thereof, knowing such claim to be false, fictitious, or fraudulent, shall be imprisoned not more than five years and shall be subject to a fine in the amount provided in this title. 31 U.S. Code § 3729 et seq., provides the civil remedies.
The False Claims Act allows private individuals or parties to file qui tam actions alleging that the defendants defrauded the federal government. In successful suits, a private party can receive between 15 – 30% of the government’s award. In such actions, the federal government is the true party and individuals, or non-government parties are called “relators.”
These matters are filed in federal district court under seal, so only the DOJ and the party who files the case can see the complaint. If the DOJ determines if they want to intervene it can do so within 60 days unless it requests and receives an extension. When the DOJ intervenes, it takes over the case. If the government does not choose to intervene, the plaintiff party may continue in the case on their own.
If the government intervenes, it takes over the case. If the government wins or settles the relator receives between 15% and 30% of the government’s award depending on the relator’s involvement in the case. If the government does not intervene, the relator may choose to continue the case on its own.
When under investigation it is important to follow the advice of your attorney and not speak about the alleged crimes over social media. LGR Law, LLC’s federal criminal defense attorneys have the essential skills to protect your legal rights. Should you or a loved one receive any indication that you are a target of a federal investigation, contact Lorraine Gauli-Rufo, and the attorneys at LGR Law immediately. (973) 239-4300, www.lgrlawgroup.com, [email protected]