Patricia Davis, former Assistant Director, Fraud Section, Civil Division, joins GeyerGorey LLP

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Patricia Davis, a twenty-year veteran of the Department of Justice, has joined GeyerGorey LLP as of counsel.  She previously served as Assistant Director, Fraud Section, Civil Division, U.S. Department of Justice, where she was responsible for investigating and prosecuting hundreds of cases involving fraud on government healthcare, procurement and grant/loan programs.  Prior to joining the Department, Ms. Davis was Deputy Counsel to the Inspector General at the General Services Administration.  She is the eleventh former DOJ prosecutor to join the boutique law firm in less than a year.

(See the firm’s Representative Matters by clicking here [this is not a comprehensive list and does not yet incorporate any of Ms. Davis’s experience])

 “The scope and breadth of Pat’s experience is unparalleled.  Much of the Civil Division’s enforcement program focusing on Defense Department contracts and pharmaceuticals rested squarely on her shoulders,” said Brad Geyer, one of the firm’s founding partners.  “We are delighted that Pat has decided to join us.”

Robert Zastrow, who was Verizon’s Assistant General Counsel for 15 years before co-founding the firm in October 2012, added,“ Pat Davis is an excellent addition to our corporate compliance and white collar practice.”

 “I believe that Pat brings our firm to a new level in terms of our ability to get cases placed appropriately and to enhance the chances that our qui tam (False Claims Act) cases will be adopted by the government,” said Hays Gorey, a firm co-founder.  “With Pat’s terrific background and deep legal knowledge, we are uniquely positioned to develop cases so that they are ready, when filed, to be transitioned immediately to the appropriate U.S. Attorney’s Office or the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.”

Headquartered in Washington, D.C., with offices in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Dallas, GeyerGorey LLP specializes in white collar criminal defense, particularly investigations and cases involving allegations of economic crimes, including violations of the federal antitrust laws (price fixing, bid rigging, territorial and customer allocation agreements), the procurement and grant fraud statutes, the securities laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the False Claims Act and other whistleblower actions.  The firm also conducts internal investigations of possible criminal conduct and provides advice regarding compliance with antitrust, anti-bribery and other laws and regulations, in addition to advising on voluntary and mandatory disclosure issues. For further information, please call Patricia Davis at (202) 559-1456 or email

Axius CEO Roland Kaufmann Sentenced for Conspiracy to Pay Bribes in Stock Sales

Roland Kaufmann, CEO of Axius Inc., was sentenced today to serve 16 months in prison for his role in a conspiracy to bribe purported stock brokers and manipulate the stock of a company he controlled, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch.

Kaufmann, 60, a Swiss citizen, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in the Eastern District of New York.  In addition to his prison term, Kaufmann was sentenced to serve three years of supervised release and ordered to pay a fine of $450,000.

Kaufmann pleaded guilty in January 2013 to one count of conspiracy to violate the Travel Act in connection with a scheme to bribe stock brokers to purchase the common stock of a company he controlled and to manipulate its stock price.  As part of his plea agreement, Kaufmann forfeited $298,740 gained through this crime.

According to court documents, Kaufmann controlled Axius, Inc., a purported holding company and business incubator located in Dubai.  As part of the scheme, the defendant and his co-conspirator, Jean Pierre Neuhaus, enlisted the assistance of an individual who they believed had access to a group of corrupt stock brokers, but who was, in fact, an undercover law enforcement agent.  Court documents reveal that they instructed the undercover agent to direct brokers to purchase Axius shares in return for a secret kickback of approximately 26 to 28 percent of the share price.  Kaufman and Neuhaus also instructed the undercover agent as to the price the brokers should pay for the stock and that the brokers were to refrain from selling the Axius shares they purchased on behalf of their clients for a one-year period.  By preventing sales of Axius stock, Kaufmann and Neuhaus intended to maintain the fraudulently inflated share price for Axius stock.

Jean Pierre Neuhaus has pleaded guilty and been sentenced for his role in the scheme.

The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Justin Goodyear of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Ilene Jaroslaw, with assistance from Fraud Section Trial Attorney Nathan Dimock.  The case was investigated by the FBI New York Field Office and the Internal Revenue Service New York Field Office.  The Department also recognizes the substantial assistance of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

This prosecution was the result of efforts by President Obama’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force (FFETF) which was created in November 2009 to wage an aggressive, coordinated and proactive effort to investigate and prosecute financial crimes. With more than 20 federal agencies, 94 U.S. attorneys’ offices and state and local partners, it’s the broadest coalition of law enforcement, investigatory and regulatory agencies ever assembled to combat fraud. Since its formation, the task force has made great strides in facilitating increased investigation and prosecution of financial crimes; enhancing coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local authorities; addressing discrimination in the lending and financial markets and conducting outreach to the public, victims, financial institutions and other organizations. Over the past three fiscal years, the Justice Department has filed more than 10,000 financial fraud cases against nearly 15,000 defendants including more than 2,700 mortgage fraud defendants.

Former Security Contractor Executives Sentenced for Illegally Obtaining More Than $31 Million Intended for Disadvantaged Small Businesses

Two executives at a Virginia-based security contracting firm were sentenced in the Eastern District of Virginia for their roles in using a front company to obtain more than $31 million intended for disadvantaged small businesses as part of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Section 8(a) program. This program allows qualified small businesses to receive sole-source and competitive-bid contracts set aside for minority-owned and disadvantaged small businesses.

 Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride of the Eastern District of Virginia; National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Inspector General Paul K. Martin; SBA Inspector General Peggy E. Gustafson; Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Special Agent in Charge of Mid-Atlantic Field Office Robert E. Craig; General Services Administration (GSA) Inspector General Brian D. Miller; and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Deputy Inspector General Charles K. Edwards made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.

Joseph Richards, 52, of Arlington, Va., and David Lux, 66, of Springfield, Va., were sentenced today to 27 and 15 months in prison, respectively, after pleading guilty in March 2013 to conspiracy to commit major government fraud. Both men were ordered to complete community service as part of their supervised release following their prison terms. Richards was ordered to pay $120,378 in restitution, and Lux was ordered to forfeit $115,556.

According to court documents, Richards and Lux were executives at an Arlington-based security contracting firm referred to as Company A in court records. In approximately 2001, Keith Hedman, 53, of Arlington, formed Company A, which was approved to participate in the 8(a) program based on the 8(a) eligibility of its listed president and CEO, an African-American female. When the listed president and CEO left Company A in 2003, Hedman became its sole owner, and the company was no longer 8(a)-eligible.

In 2003, Hedman created Company B, another Arlington-based security contractor, to ensure that he could continue to gain access to 8(a) contracting preferences for which Company A was no longer qualified. Prior to applying for Company B’s 8(a) status, Hedman selected an employee, Dawn Hamilton, 48, of Brownsville, Md., to serve as a figurehead owner based on her Portuguese heritage and history of social disadvantage. In reality, the new company was managed by Hedman and Company A senior leadership in violation of 8(a) rules and regulations. To deceive the SBA, the co-conspirators falsely claimed that Hamilton formed and founded the company and that she was the only member of the company’s management. Based on those misrepresentations, Company B obtained 8(a) status in 2004. From 2004 through February 2012, Hedman – not Hamilton – impermissibly exercised ultimate decision-making authority and control over Company B by directing its finances, allocation of personnel, and government contracting activities.

Richards and Lux joined the scheme in 2005 and 2008, respectively. Hedman offered Richards and Lux ownership stakes in Company B in exchange for their assistance in misleading the SBA and other U.S. government agencies, and both men accepted. Once they joined the conspiracy, Richards and Lux took a variety of actions to further the fraud against the United States. In 2008, for example, both Richards and Lux helped Company B overcome a protest by another company that accused Company A and Company B of improperly obtaining a $48 million Coast Guard contract.

From 2008 to 2010, Richards moved to Company B’s payroll to help Hedman illegally operate Company B. In 2010, Lux helped Hedman withdraw more than $1 million in cash from Company B’s accounts, which Hedman then disbursed to various conspirators, including $100,000 in cash to both Richards and Lux. Richards and Lux also assisted Hedman, Hamilton, and other co-conspirators prepare false documents, including annual reviews, to submit to SBA and other government agencies.

In total, the scheme netted government contracts valued at more than $153 million, from which Company B obtained more than $31 million in contract payments. The various conspirators netted more than $6.1 million that they were not entitled to receive from those payments.

Six other defendants have pleaded guilty in the scheme:

• Hedman is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee on June 21, 2013. • Hamilton is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S. District Judge T. S. Ellis, III on June 28, 2013. • David Sanborn, 60, of Lexington, S.C., Company A’s former president, is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S District Judge Claude M. Hilton on July 19, 2013. • John Hertogs, 42, of Winter Springs, Fl., Company B’s former director of operations, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Hilton on July 12, 2013, for submitting a fraudulent 8(a) application for a follow-on company that Hedman and Hamilton intended to use once Company B graduated from the 8(a) program. • Derek Matthews, 47, of Harwood, Md., former Regional Director for the National Capital Region of the Federal Protective Service, is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Brinkema on July 19, 2013, for a related bribery scheme in which Hedman agreed to pay Matthews $50,000 and a percentage of new business in exchange for Matthews helping Company B obtain contracts. • Michael Dunkel, 59, of Merritt Island, Fl., is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Lee on Oct. 4, 2013, for obtaining more than $4.4 million in payments by using Company B as a pass-through company on NASA contracts.

This case is being investigated by NASA Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the SBA -OIG, DCIS-OIG, GSA-OIG, and DHS-OIG, with assistance from the Defense Contract Audit Agency. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Golder and Ryan Faulconer, a former Trial Attorney for the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

County Commissioner Sentenced for Attempted Extortion and Bribery

Al J. Hurley, a former county commissioner in Sumter County, Ga., was sentenced today to 36 months in prison stemming from his acceptance of illicit payments in exchange for his official efforts to secure government contracts for a private contractor, Acting Assistant Attorney General Mythili Raman of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Middle District of Georgia U.S. Attorney Michael J. Moore announced.

Hurley, 55, of Americus, Ga., was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands.  On Dec. 3, 2012, a federal jury sitting in the Albany Division of the Middle District of Georgia found Hurley guilty of one count each of attempted extortion and federal program bribery.

Hurley was first elected to the five-member Sumter County board of commissioners in 1999.  As the primary governing body for the county, the board presided over a variety of official matters, including the bidding process for and award of various county contracts.

Evidence at trial showed that from September to December 2011, Hurley, in his capacity as a county commissioner, solicited and agreed to accept cash payments – including $5,000 on Oct. 23, 2011, and $15,000 on Dec. 19, 2011 – from a private contractor, in exchange for Hurley’s repeated promises to use official action and influence to help facilitate the award of county contracting work to the contractor.

In particular, Hurley told the contractor that he would help him win a $100,000 depot renovation contract in a city within Hurley’s district.  Trial testimony also established that, in order to drive up the bribe amount, Hurley invented two inside contacts that he claimed to have at a new racetrack project in his district, and claimed the contacts could influence the award of related contracting work in favor of the contractor.  Hurley, who testified, admitted the contacts did not exist.

This case was investigated by the FBI. This case was prosecuted by Trial Attorney Eric G. Olshan of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney K. Alan Dasher of the Middle District of Georgia.

GGLLP Alert: Changes to the False Claims Act Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

Changes to the False Claims Act Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) made a number of significant changes to the False Claims Act, including the following:

Original Source Requirement.  A plaintiff may now overcome the public disclosure if he or she qualifies as an “original source.”  The PPACA revised the definition of this term.  Previously, an original source had to have “direct and independent knowledge of the information on which the allegations [were] based.”  Now, an original source may be a person who merely has “knowledge that is independent of and materially adds to the publicly disclosed allegations or transactions.”  See 31 U.S.C. 3730(e)(4)(B).

Changes to the Public Disclosure Bar.  Previously, relators were precluded from proceeding if there had been a public disclosure of information.  This disclosure could have occurred in news reports, a Freedom of Information Act response, court proceedings or in any number of ways.  Thus, the public disclosure bar often served as a basis for dismissal.  The PPACA amended the False Claims Act to allow the government to have the final say on whether a court could properly dismiss a case based on a public disclosure.  The statute now provides that “the court shall dismiss an action unless opposed by the Government, if substantially the same allegations or transaction alleged in the action or claim were publicly disclosed.”  See 31 U.S.C. 3730(e)(4)(A).

Overpayments.  In the prior law, there was confusion as to the “obligation” under the False Claims Act not to retain overpayments and when such overpayments had to be returned after their discovery.  Now, under the PPACA, overpayments under Medicare and Medicaid must be reported and returned within 60 days of discovery, or the date a corresponding hospital report is due.  The failure timely to report and return an overpayment exposes a provider to False Claims Act liability.

Statutory Anti-Kickback Liability. The federal Anti-Kickback Statute, 42 U.S.C. 1320a-7b(b) (AKS), makes it a crime for any person to solicit, receive, offer or pay remuneration (monetary or otherwise) in exchange for referring patients to receive certain services that are paid for by the government.  Previously, many courts had interpreted the False Claims Act to mean that claims submitted as a result of AKS violations were false claims and therefore gave rise to liability under the False Claims Act (in addition to AKS penalties). Even though this was the majority rule, some courts held otherwise and the issue was always present in every case.  The PPACA changed the language of the AKS to provide that claims submitted in violation of the AKS automatically constitute false claims for purposes of the False Claims Act.  Further, the new language provides that “a person need not have actual knowledge … or specific intent to commit a violation” of the AKS.

CIA Contractors Settle False Claims Act and Kickback Allegations for $3 Million United States Alleges Companies Provided Government Employees with Meals and Entertainment to Steer Contract Award

The Justice Department announced today that American Systems Corporation,  International Inc., and Corning Cable Systems LLC have agreed to pay the United States $3 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act and the Anti-Kickback Act in bidding on a contract with the CIA.

The settlement announced today resolves claims against these contractors related to a CIA contract awarded to American Systems in early 2009 to provide supplies and services.  American Systems teamed with Anixter to bid on the contract with Corning as a supplier.   The United States alleged that American Systems, Anixter and Corning provided gratuities, including meals, entertainment, gifts and tickets to sporting and other events, to CIA employees and outside consultants in order to influence contract specifications that would favor the three companies in the award of the contract. The settlement also resolves allegations that the three companies improperly received source selection information from a CIA employee to whom they had provided gratuities, and that they had concealed the gratuities prior to award.

“This settlement shows that the United States will protect the integrity of the federal procurement process from the wrongful activities of unscrupulous contractors,” said Stuart F. Delery, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Department of Justice, Civil Division.   “Plying government officials with meals and entertainment to gain favorable treatment in the award of federal contracts corrupts the procurement process and will not be allowed.”  

 “Improper gifts and gratuities paid to government officials are a corrupting influence on government contracts. Combating this type of conduct is a high priority in the Eastern District of Virginia,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Neil MacBride.

“This case clearly reflects that the CIA will respond effectively to allegations of fraud affecting agency programs,” said CIA Inspector General David B. Buckley. “My office treats contract fraud and related employee misconduct as one of our top investigative priorities, and we work closely with agency employees and the Department of Justice to ensure that illegal acts are addressed in an effective manner.”

The allegations resolved by the settlement were initiated by a lawsuit filed in the Eastern District of Virginia under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act by former Anixter sales representative, William Jones. Under the False Claims Act, private citizens may sue on behalf of the United States for false claims and share in any recovery obtained by the government. Jones will receive $585,000 as his share of the government’s recovery.

This settlement was the result of a coordinated effort by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia; the Department of Justice, Civil Division, Commercial Litigation Branch; and the CIA, Office of Inspector General. The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only; there has been no determination of liability.