• Lance Armstrong settled a False Claims Act case for $5 million. His cycling team was sponsored at one point by the U.S. Postal Service. Apparently doping violates the terms of federal government sponsorship agreements. Who knew?
  • In Texas, the GM of a Venezuelan energy company entered a guilty plea for his role in an international money laundering and bribery scheme
  • Closer to home, former FBI Director James Comey will be in Portland tomorrow to plug his new book. He’ll be in Seattle on Sunday. I’ll be attending the Seattle talk.
  • It’s not just famously fired government officials who are active in the Pacific Northwest. Current prosecutors are busy as well. In Portland, a CPA’s 4/20 plans went up in smoke when the U.S. Attorney’s Office accused him of hiding income and diverting investor money from his accounting business to his marijuana business.
  • In Seattle, the former president and former vault-manager of a King County precious metals business were arraigned this week on charges that they fraudulently obtained millions of dollars from thousands of customers by misrepresenting shipping times for bullion and using bullion and money belonging to customers to fulfill other bullion orders. I can still think of at least one far more ambitious bullion-based criminal scheme:

 

 

fraud photoHealthcare news and information site RACmonitor reported with some fanfare in early November of last year that DOJ Civil Fraud Section Director Michael Granston (a friend and former DOJ colleague) had announced at a conference on October 30 that DOJ would begin to seriously consider urging courts to dismiss meritless qui tam or whistleblower actions brought under the False Claims Act at or shortly after the government had reached its intervention decision.

On November 17, Law360 reported that DOJ, in response to RACmonitor’s reporting, had denied adopting a more aggressive stance towards seeking dismissal of qui tam actions it had determined to be lacking in merit.

Now we learn that DOJ’s denial of a policy change to Law360 back in November was not entirely accurate. Indeed, on January 10, the same Michael Granston quoted by RACmonitor issued an internal memorandum  marked “Privileged and Confidential; For Internal Government Use Only” announcing a general framework for evaluating when to seek dismissal of qui tam actions, pursuant to 31 USC § 3730(c)(2)(A)—something DOJ has only sparingly done over the last 30 years since the FCA was substantially amended.

Continue Reading To Dismiss or Not to Dismiss? That Is the Question