FBI Whistleblower Claims Florida Governor was “Father of Fraud”
An accountant that became an FBI whistleblower for a Medicare fraud investigation against a hospital chain reignited his claims that Florida Governor Rick Scott, the company’s former chief executive, must have known about the chain’s hundreds of millions of dollars in theft. “Fraud was brewing in the DNA of Rick Scott’s company from the very beginning, and he was the father of it.”
Governor Scott was the founder of the hospital group Colombia/HCA. John Schilling was an accountant for the hospital chain. He claimed that Governor Scott’s company was keeping two sets of books, with one of them marked “do not show to Medicare auditors.”
Mr. Schilling left the company in 1995 and went to the FBI with his claims. He then returned as an informant, sometimes secretly recording meetings and confidentially reporting activities to federal investigators. He exposed padded billings, kickbacks to doctors and medical providers, and improper expense accounting.
At the end of the investigation, the Colombia/HCA group was hit with $1.7 billion in federal penalties, which was at the time the largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history. Governor Scott was CEO of the corporation but was ousted in 1997, and he was not personally charged in the case. For his participation, Mr. Schilling got to share in the $100 million whistleblower award.
Governor Scott’s Claims
Coming up against these claims in 2010, the Florida Republican Party shrugged off the accusations during Scott’s campaign. Speaking on behalf of Governor Scott, a spokesperson said during this election that these accusations were the “desperate statements” of the opposing party. The governor has repeatedly claimed that he had no idea about the actions of his juniors at the company while he was CEO.
Florida Whistleblower Law
Florida enacted the False Claims Act that allows employees to bring suit in the name of the state when their employer engages in conduct that defrauds the state or local government of taxpayer dollars. Found in Chapter 68 of the Florida statutes, the Act imposes liability on people and corporations who, among other things, knowingly present fraudulent or false claims for payment to the state, misappropriate state property, or deceptively conceal an obligation to pay the state.
An employer may be liable for up to three times the amount defrauded, plus a fine between $5,000 and $11,000 for each violation that occurred. The whistleblower that brings the case is entitled to anywhere between 15 and 25% of any recovery if joined by the Florida Lawyer General in court or between 25 and 30% if the whistleblower proceeds alone.
The False Claims Act also protects a whistleblower from retaliation by the employer for reporting the acts. However, a claim cannot be made against an employer if the action took place more than 10 years ago.
Call a Whistleblower Lawyer Today
If you believe that your employer is defrauding a government agency in Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, or West Palm Beach, you are entitled as a whistleblower to an award that can be as much as 30% of the total funds recovered. Let the experienced whistleblower claims lawyers at The Pendas Law Firm help ensure that you get the reward that you deserve. Call or contact the office today for a free and confidential consultation of your case.