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I have been blogging about a great CLE (Continuing Legal Education) seminar
that I have been attending. The conference is for lawyers who represent
relators in False Claims Act and other qui tam lawsuits. For me, one of
the highlights of the conference has been the Government lawyers who have
spoken to us about the cases the Government has pursued in their districts
or states.

For example, the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia,
Neil MacBride gave a very engaging talk. As a taxpayer, I was cheered
to hear him say that he has made safeguarding taxpayer dollars a priority
for his office. His district is now 8th in the total number of qui tam
filings in the country. According to United States Attorney McBride, the
Eastern District of Virginia has a high percentage of defense contract
FCA cases compared to other districts – which of course, makes sense,
when you consider their location. (Nationally, Medicare and Medicaid fraud
cases eclipse all other types of fraud cases filed under the False Claims
Act.) MacBride said that to date, his office has recovered over a quarter
of a billion dollars in FCA cases. He noted that many of the Government’s
payments to contractors – of all types – are run through his
district, and so he is expecting even more qui tam cases in his district
in the future.

We also heard from
Carmen Ortiz, who is the first female United States Attorney in Massachusetts. She
told us that her office has made white collar crime and FCA litigation
a priority because that sort of financial crime can have such a large
impact on citizens. Traditionally the Massachusetts AG’s office
has been a national leader in healthcare fraud and plans to continue serious
focus on that area. In fact, United States Attorney Ortiz said, Massachusetts
has 40% of the nationwide total healthcare recoveries under the False
Claims Act. She also noted that Massachusetts is branching out into financial
fraud cases of all types.

I think it would be safe to say that Massachusetts is taking fraud seriously.
Zach Cuhna and Susan Winkler, both AUSAs in Ms. Ortiz’s office,
spoke the day before Ms. Ortiz did. Sara Bloom, the Chief of Affirmative
Litigation for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts
spoke , as did and Ann Ackil, Assistant Attorney General in the Massachusetts
Office of the Attorney General, spoke as well. Of course, Massachusetts
is my old law school stomping grounds since I went to Harvard Law School,
so I really enjoyed hearing from all of these Massachusetts people.

Numerous other attorneys, both private and Government, spoke at the conference.
and from numerous attorneys in the Department of Justice. In fact, all
told, I believe I counted that the speakers alone came from 16 different
states and the District of Columbia, and of course the attendees came
from many other states, as well.

It was a truly impressive array of speakers, and as always I learned a
tremendous amount.
Taxpayers Against Fraud (TAF) puts on this conference once a year. For a lawyer who represents
whistleblowers, as I do, this conference is a real highlight of the year.
Congratulations to TAF President & Executive Director Kristin Amerling,
Director of Legal Education Cleve Lawrence and Membership Director Takeia
Garner for putting on such a great conference.


Lee’s peers have named her a Georgia SuperLawyer every year for two decades.