News & Views
County settles lawsuit with former employee
Settlement cost taxpayers more than $250,000
A settlement with a former county employee cost taxpayers more than
a quarter-million dollars, county records show. . . . Officials
tried to keep the agreement secret, but records obtained by the
Record-Eagle through the state Freedom of Information Act show
Jacqueline Rozema, longtime Charlevoix prosecutor's office manager,
received $275,000 to drop her lawsuit against the county. . . . The
county cut the check to Rozema on Dec. 28.
County Board chair Shirley
Roloff, who signed off on the final agreement, said she had been
told by the county's lawyer, Janice Hildenbrand, to keep the terms
confidential. . . . "When I talked to our attorney who was handling
the matter, she informed me that I wasn't to talk about it,” Roloff
said. "I'm glad it's out there for people to know what's happening.”
. . . County Clerk Jane Brannon, who provided the check register
documents and the four-page agreement after the Record-Eagle
submitted a FOIA, said she, too, was told the agreement was not to
be discussed. . . . "We thought 'confidential' meant just that,” she
said. . . . A county employee for more than two decades beginning in
1981, Rozema in 2003 became involved in a series of contentious
Whistleblower Protection Act lawsuits.
Supreme Court Tightens Rules in Whistleblower Lawsuits
Justices restrict when an individual can collect for suits under
False Claims Act
The Supreme Court made it harder Tuesday for whistleblowers to share
in the proceeds from fraud lawsuits against government contractors.
. . The Court ruled 6-2 that James Stone, an 81-year-old retired
engineer, may not collect a penny for his role in exposing fraud at
the now-closed Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant northwest of
Denver. . . Writing for the
Court, Justice Antonin Scalia said Stone was not an original source
of the information that resulted in Rockwell International, now part
of aerospace giant Boeing Co., being ordered to pay the government
nearly $4.2 million for fraud connected with environmental cleanup
at the Rocky Flats plant. . . . Rockwell must pay the entire penalty
anyway. The only question before the Court was whether Stone would
get his cut.
Whistleblower in Pigeon Shootings Wins Retaliation Case
A city worker was awarded $660,000
over claims he was unfairly punished after reporting that fellow
employees were shooting pigeons for fun on department grounds. . . .
William M. Lakes, 46, who worked for the Department of Public Works,
reported the pigeon shooting to the Occupational Safety and Health
Administration in 2003. . . . A local radio station later reported
that police were investigating the shootings. . . . According to the
Press of Atlantic City, Lakes's supervisors then held a meeting and
offered amnesty to anyone who came forward with information about
the bird shootings. . . . Lakes said after he told supervisors what
he knew, he was harassed and shunned by co-workers and later
Postmaster indicted in sack of scams
U.S. attorney says Sussex ex-official faces 12 years, $750,000 fine
for multiple fraud schemes
By Jim Lockwood, Star-Ledger Staff
A former Sussex County postmaster who later
oversaw 75 post offices in northern New Jersey was indicted
yesterday for his role in a number of brazen schemes, including
directing hundreds of thou sands of dollars in unnecessary repair
work on postal vehicles to a Newton garage. . . . John F. Balliro,
51, of Hamburg and other unnamed co-conspirators -- including
another postmaster -- are accused of improperly steering $600,000 in
repair work on postal vehicles to the Newton garage, having
unnecessary construction work performed at various postal
facilities, having a postal employee do work at his ex-wife's home
in Pennsylvania, and misusing employee work time and leave, said
U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie. ***************Concealed the
fraud by submitting documents containing false statements and/or
omissions, conducted cash transactions to eliminate an audit trail
and intimidated a whistleblower by sending that employee a cartoon
of three henchmen throwing a dog with its paws encased in cement off
a bridge. The cartoon bore the caption "He bit the Godfather" and
had Balliro's name and the names of two close associates handwritten
on it, indi cating they were the henchmen; the dog was identified as
House Committee Unanimously Approves Whistleblower Protections
By a unanimous 28-0 vote, the House Oversight and Government Reform
Committee approved landmark legislation to overhaul the law
protecting federal government whistleblowers. Lead sponsors for H.R.
985, the "Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007," include
Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA), Ranking Member Tom Davis
(R-VA), and Rep. Todd Platts (R-PA). . . . "Today the Government
Reform Committee lived up to its name. Now the spotlight is on House
leadership to do the same, by scheduling a floor vote without
delay," commented Government Accountability Project (GAP) Legal Director Tom Devine. GAP has been working seven years for the reform's enactment. Devine added,
"If this legislation becomes law, it will create a gold standard for
public employee free speech rights, and a breakthrough for
Bush Declares ECO-Whistleblower Law Void For EPA Employees
The Bush administration has declared itself immune from
whistleblower protections for federal workers under the Clean Water
Act, according to legal documents released Monday by Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result of an
opinion issued by a unit within the Office of the Attorney General,
federal workers will have little protection from official
retaliation for reporting water pollution enforcement breakdowns,
manipulations of science or cleanup failures. . . . Citing an
"unpublished opinion of the [Attorney General's] Office of Legal
Counsel," the Secretary of Labor's Administrative Review Board has
ruled federal employees may no longer pursue whistleblower claims
under the Clean Water Act. The opinion invoked the ancient doctrine
of sovereign immunity which is based on the old English legal maxim
that "The King Can Do No Wrong". It is an absolute defense to any
legal action unless the "sovereign" consents to be sued. . . . The
opinion and the ruling reverse nearly two decades of precedent.
Approximately 170,000 federal employees working within environmental
agencies are affected by the loss of whistleblower rights.
Qui Tam/Whistleblower Case Histories In The Healthcare Industry
Here are some examples of recent Qui Tam cases from all over the
United States. Approximately one
of every three dollars recovered through false claims cases relate
to healthcare fraud.
$900,000,000 under the False Claims Act: . . . In July 2006, Tenet
Healthcare (formerly known as NME) consented to pay $900 million to
the federal government to atone for the company's manipulation of
the Medicare system via bill padding, kickbacks, and upcoding.
$745,400,000 under the False Claims Act: . . . In December 2000, the
Nashville-based corporation known as the Health Corporation of
America (HCA), agreed to pay the government $745 million to settle charges of
fraudulent billing to Medicare and other government agencies. The
fines levied against HCA arose
out of the company's systematic defrauding of the healthcare system-i.e.
billing for unnecessary tests, upcoding, and charging the government
for advertising, which was disguised beneath the blanket of
$631,000,000 under the False Claims Act: . . . In June 2003, the
Nashville-based corporation known as HCA, (formerly known as Columbia/HCA) consented to pay the federal government $631 million in civil
penalties and damages to address false claims that were submitted to
Medicare and other federal health programs.
HCA incurred these fines because of the company's participation in kickback
schemes and egregious billing practices.
$567,000,000 under the False Claims Act: . . . In October 2005, the
Swiss biotech company Serono entered into agreement to pay $704
million to the federal government. The fines extracted from the
company settled a fraud case involving the company's AIDS drug,
Serostim, a human growth hormone product used to treat AIDS-related
wasting. Serono amassed these fines because of the company's
participation in kickback schemes, off-label promotion, and use of
non-FDA approved diagnostic equipment that was used generate more
prescriptions than necessary.
[Taketa-Abbott Pharmaceutical] Pharmaceutical Products Inc.
$559,483,560 under the False Claims Act: . . . In October 2001, TAP Pharmaceutical Products Inc. consented to pay $875 million to settle
civil liabilities and criminal charges. These charges flowed out of
the disreputable practices that the company engaged in to promote
its prostate cancer fighting drug, Lupron. Of the amount that the
company agreed to pay, $559,483,560 was obtained under the False
Claims Act. Furthermore, TAP agreed to pay $290 million to settle criminal charges, which stated
that the company had conspired to subvert the Prescription Drug
Whistleblower in Orange County bankruptcy becomes supervisor
The man who repeatedly warned officials of an impending financial
disaster that hit Orange County more than a decade ago
took his seat Tuesday on the county Board of Supervisors. . . . John
Moorlach was elected Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector in the
wake of the county's 1994 filing for bankruptcy protection. He kept
the position for nearly a dozen years before winning a seat on the
board in June. . . . Orange County got into trouble after
its then-treasurer, Robert Citron, funneled billions of public
dollars into questionable investments while consulting psychics and
astrologers. At first the returns were high and cities, schools and
special districts borrowed millions to join in his investments. . .
. But the strategy backfired, and Citron's investment pool lost
$1.64 billion. Nearly $200 million had to be slashed from the county
budget and more than 1,000 jobs were cut. The county was also forced
to borrow $1 billion. . . . Moorlach has lately warned that
Orange County now faces a
similar problem with unfunded pension costs. Future costs,
previously estimated at $1.3 billion, are now estimated at $2.3
billion. . . . "This fiscal year, the pension plan is certainly the
elephant in the room," Moorlach said at his swearing-in. "It's
something I want to work on with a passion."
Whistleblower suit filed in N.J.
former finance official at UMDNJ says she was forced out after
looking into improper billings.
Senior officials at the University of
Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey concealed that the school overbilled the
federal government by tens of millions of dollars and then
retaliated against an employee who wouldn't help in the cover-up,
according to a lawsuit filed by the whistleblower yesterday. . . .
In her lawsuit, Kathryn Gibbons, 48, a former finance official at
the school's University Hospital, claims that she spent four years
trying to properly report and correct irregular and improper billing
and cost-reporting practices related to Medicare and Medicaid claims
at the school. . . . Filed in State Superior Court in
Middlesex County, the lawsuit seeks
punitive and compensatory damages from the school and its top
officials, including lost wages, attorney fees, and other costs
related to the suit. It is the second whistleblower lawsuit filed
against the school this month. . . . A spokeswoman for the school,
Anna Farneski, said the incidents referred to in the lawsuit "have
been under active investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office and
the federal monitor for many months with our active cooperation." .
. . "They were aware of our personnel decisions concerning Ms.
Gibbons. This was not a case of retaliation," Farneski said.
State agency whistleblower gets job back
A whistleblower who complained about how computer software contracts
were handled in the Department of State must be given his job back
and the state must pay his legal fees, a judge ruled. . . .
Christopher Van Hine can return to his job directing the
department's information management systems and may also be entitled
to damages for how he was treated, Senior Judge Barry F. Feudale
said in a ruling Wednesday. . . . Van Hine suffered discrimination
and retaliation "solely because of his good-faith report of
wrongdoing and waste to his superiors and an appropriate authority,"
Feudale wrote. . . . Van Hine sued the department, former Secretary
of State C. Michael Weaver, and one of his aides over being stripped
of his duties in 2002 after complaining about the software contracts
to a supervisor.
FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds serves up Turkey after the holiday
Sibel Edmonds has been raising hell for years. And she is about to
throw a few more coals on that hell fire. . . . Edmonds, founder and
director of the
National Security Whistleblowers Coalition, asked Narco
News to help provide some exposure for a recent article she penned
on Turkey, narco-trafficking, the nuclear black-market and U.S.
lobbyists. It should make some interesting reading for those
interested in the farce of the drug war. . . . But before presenting
today’s show, it is only proper to provide some background on the
lead character. . . . Edmonds was born in Iran but spent much of her
early life in Turkey before moving to the United States for college.
After graduating, she wound up working in the criminal justice field
and was eventually hired by the FBI in 2001 as a contract
translator. . . . Edmonds’ walk down the path of
the American dream came to an abrupt end in March 2002, though, when
she was fired by the FBI — after blowing the whistle on alleged
espionage being carried out by a fellow FBI employee. She was
prevented from pursuing a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit filed in
2002 (based on alleged violations of her First Amendment rights)
because of the state-secrets privilege claim invoked by the
government. That claim essentially shut down her ability to present
evidence in the case under the smokescreen that it would threaten
national security. . . . The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately rejected
her appeal in that case. Several related lawsuits filed by Edmonds
also were subsequently derailed with the hammer of national
security. . . . But Edmonds was not about to be silenced by the
Star Chamber. . . . In 2002, she launched the National
Security Whistleblowers Coalition, which today is some 100 members
strong and counts among its rank and file:
Daniel Ellsberg, who exposed the Pentagon Papers;
Russ Tice, a former NSA intelligence analyst who helped
to expose the Bush Administration’s illegal domestic spying program;
Ray McGovern, a former CIA analyst who, in front the national press, challenged Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld on his lies about the
Sandalio Gonzalez, a former Special Agent in Charge of
DEA’s El Paso, Texas, field office who blew
the whistle on the
House of Death mass murder.
Whistleblower safe harbor not safe anymore
Government employees who come
forward with reports of waste, fraud, abuse, and illegal and
dangerous activities are known as whistleblowers. They alert us when
something has gone seriously wrong with the bureaucracy, as opposed
to the everyday low-level wrongness. Unfortunately, the usual
reaction to a whistleblower by his or her management is not a
correction of the problem, but rather retaliation: forced transfers,
demotions, revocation of security clearances, and even being fired.
. . . Whistleblowers who are retaliated against are supposed to be
able to go to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to seek redress.
Acting independently, the OSC can force investigations into
retaliation and misconduct which whistleblowers report to it. But
lately the OSC isn’t such a friendly place to whistleblowers. . . .
“The Office of Special Counsel is supposed to be the agency where
whistleblowers can turn to when they have been fired, harassed,
demoted, moved to the basement or otherwise retaliated against,”
writes Beth Daley, Director of Communication and
Development for the Project on Government Oversight. “This
theoretical safe haven against retaliation was supposed to provide a
counterbalance for whistleblowers who risk losing their jobs, their
careers, their homes, and even their marriages.”
Whistle-blower gets taste of vindication
Prison safety officer honored — by mail
9/8/06 -- Leroy Smith paid a price
for blowing the whistle at Atwater federal prison. Thursday, the
Bush administration paid him back with some honors. . . . Smith's
work was vindicated, but that does not erase the pain he endured.
The Office of Special Counsel named Smith its 2006 Public Servant.
The award recognizes the prison safety officer as the nation's
"outstanding whistle-blower." . . . But 15 minutes before the
ceremony was set to start, Smith said, his attorney learned the
event was being canceled. . . . Instead, he was advised his award
and certificate were being dropped in the mail.
Whistleblower Vindicated in Federal Law Judge Decision
09/06/06 -- A federal administrative law judge
has ruled that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) illegally
fired one of its employees for blowing the whistle on environmental
and worker safety hazards at an abandoned
copper mine. . . . Earle Dixon, who was hired by BLM in October 2003
to manage the cleanup of hazardous materials at the Anaconda Mine
Nev., filed a complaint with the
Department of Labor after BLM dismissed him on Oct. 5, 2004.
When an OSHA regional administrator determined BLM had legitimate
business reasons for firing
Dixon, Dixon filed an appeal
with the Department of Labor's Office of Administrative Law Judges.
. . . Dixon argued that BLM terminated him because he voiced
concerns that the Anaconda Mine cleanup efforts were not being
conducted in compliance with environmental laws such as the Safe
Drinking Water Act and the Comprehensive Environmental Response,
Compensation and Liability Act. Dixon also claimed that he clashed
with BLM and other parties involved in the mine cleanup because
Dixon believed BLM safety and health policies were being ignored,
putting workers at risk of exposure to radiological hazards.
Former BLM supervisor wins whistleblower suit
RENO — The firing of a former Bureau
of Land Management (BLM) supervisor overseeing cleanup at the old
Anaconda Mine site west of town was recently ruled unjust via a
federal administrative law judge in Reno. . . . Former BLM
Supervisor Earle Dixon said he was illegally dismissed as manager
overseeing the cleanup in October 2004. The filed whistleblower
complaint charged his termination was a result of having brought to
light worker safety and radiation, air and water pollution
violations relating to the site. . . . In the ruling, Federal
Administrative Judge Richard Malamphy ordered the defendant to pay
Dixon two years of back pay and benefits totaling more than $120,000
saying it was clear “Dixon was fired for this whistleblowing
activities” at the former copper mine.
No Fear Coalition advocates for government
whistleblowers and federal employee rights in general.
Bush Declares Eco-Whistleblower Law Void for EPA Employees
Stealth Repeal of Clean Water Act
Protections by Invoking "Sovereign Immunity"
The Bush administration has declared itself immune from
whistleblower protections for federal workers under the Clean Water
Act, according to legal documents released today by Public Employees
for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). As a result of an opinion
issued by a unit within the Office of the Attorney General, federal
workers will have little protection from official retaliation for
reporting water pollution enforcement breakdowns, manipulations of
science or cleanup failures. . . . Citing an "unpublished opinion of
the [Attorney General's] Office of Legal Counsel," the Secretary of
Labor's Administrative Review Board has ruled federal employees may
no longer pursue whistleblower claims under the Clean Water Act. The
opinion invoked the ancient doctrine of sovereign immunity which is
based on the old English legal maxim that "The King Can Do No
Wrong." It is an absolute defense to any legal action unless the
"sovereign" consents to be sued. . . . The opinion and the ruling
reverse nearly two decades of precedent. Approximately 170,000
federal employees working within environmental agencies are affected
by the loss of whistleblower rights. . . . "The Bush administration
is engineering the stealth repeal of whistleblower protections,"
stated PEER General Counsel Richard Condit, who had won several of
the earlier cases applying environmental whistleblower protections
to federal specialists. "The use of an unpublished opinion to change
official interpretations is a giant step backward to the days of the
secret Star Chamber." PEER ultimately obtained a copy of the opinion
under the Freedom of Information Act. –
Fraud lawsuit targets Hillary
Fund-raiser claims 'smoking guns' prove
campaign in massive scam
Art Moore; WorldNetDaily.com
Clinton positions herself for a presidential run, a former
fund-raiser is moving ahead with a lawsuit claiming the New York
senator orchestrated the largest campaign-finance fraud ever by an
American political campaign. . . .
In an interview with WorldNetDaily,
millionaire lawyer and businessman Peter Franklin Paul asserted
Clinton failed to declare to the Federal Election Commission more
than $2 million in contributions – a massive omission he believes
prevented her 2000 senatorial campaign from going bankrupt in the
crucial final weeks. . . .
Paul has filed a
civil suit charging Sen. Clinton and her husband, former President
Clinton, with fraud, coercion and conspiracy.
courts so far have denied the Clintons' motions to dismiss, and Paul
expects the case to proceed at the beginning of the year, just as
Hillary Clinton prepares to defend her Senate seat.