In The News

Fiber Manufacturer Agrees to Pay the US $66 Million to Settle Alleged False Claim Act Violations

Some cases of alleged governmental fraud are so egregious that the government takes special efforts to pursue violators. This was the case last month when the Department of Justice announced that Toyobo Co. Ltd of Japan and its American subsidiary have agreed to pay $66 million to resolve clams that they violated the False Claims Act when they sold defective Zylon fiber used in bullet proof vests. The vests are used by federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies. Specifically, the government alleges that between at least 2001 and 2005, Toyobo and its American subsidiary – Toyobo America Inc. – sold Zylon which they knew was defective. These defects rendered the vest unfit for use. Moreover, the government alleged that Toyobo actively continued to market its Zylon fiber despite knowing that the vests were defective. Toyobo, according to the Justice Department, marketed the material with the use of misleading degradation data that understated fiber’s defects. Toyobo’s actions are alleged to have delayed the government’s actions to determine the extent of Zylon’s flaws by several years. The government’s assertions about the defects in found in Zylon were backed by a National Institute of Justice (NIJ) study that found the vests to be effective in stopping bullets only 50% of the time. Eventually, the NIJ decertified all Zylon-containing vests

“This settlement sends a strong message to suppliers of products to the federal government that they must be truthful in their claims, particularly with regard to health and safety,” said Carol Fortine Ochoa, Inspector General of the General Services Administration. The Civil Division previously recovered more than $66 million from 16 entities involved in the manufacture, distribution or sale of Zylon vests. This included manufactures, weavers, trading companies and five individuals who were involved in the scheme. The US still has lawsuits pending against the former chief executive of Second Chance, and against Honeywell International Inc.

The settlement announced last month resolves allegations that arose from two lawsuits. The first was filed by the United States and the other was filed by Aaron Westrick, a law enforcement office formerly employed by Second Chance. Westrick’s lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. This act permits private individuals to sue behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery. This can be done using the services of a false claims act attorney. A false claims act attorney, or qui tam lawyer, specializes in all aspects of the False Claims Act. As a result of his actions, Dr. Westrick will receive $5,775,000 as his share of the recovery.


The Department of Justice and Health and Human Services Recover $2.6 Billion as part of its Ongoing Campaign Against Healthcare Fraud

There is little doubt that the government’s efforts at combating healthcare fraud have been a success. This success has been demonstrated in terms of human health and safety and in terms of monies recovered by the government. As an example of the latter, the Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar released a fiscal year 2017 Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control report showing that the government has recovered $4 for every one dollar it has expended in its fight against healthcare fraud. In FY 2017, the government’s healthcare fraud prevention and enforcement efforts recovered $2.6 billion in taxpayer dollars from individuals and entities attempting to defraud the federal government and Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries. Some of these fraudulent practices include:

  • The operation of “pill mills” from medical offices
  • Providers submitting false claims to Medicare for ambulance transportation services
  • Clinics submitting false claims to Medicare and Medicaid for physical and occupational therapy
  • Drug companies taking kickbacks from providers for prescription drugs
  • Companies misrepresenting the capabilities of their electronic health record software to customers

“Today’s report highlights the success of HHS and DOJ’s joint fraud-fighting efforts,” said HHS Secretary Azar. “By holding individuals and entities accountable for defrauding our federal health programs, we are protecting the programs’ beneficiaries, safeguarding billions in taxpayer dollars, and, in the case of pill mills, helping stem the tide of our nation’s opioid epidemic.” The Fraud Strike Force has secured prison sentences for more than 300 defendants, caused other defendants to enter Corporate Integrity Agreements (CIAs), and recovered vast sums of tax payer money. Lately, the current attorney general – Jeff Sessions – has included the national opioid crisis as part of the overall effort to combat healthcare fraud and abuse. Thus, the Department of Justice has also been going after doctors who overprescribe opioids. Of course people who are accused of defrauding the government are entitled to legal representation as are people who report such fraud. The latter can employ the services of a qui tam attorney. A qui tam law firm provides legal representation for individuals who, using the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, choose to sue on behalf of the government.

 

In addition to criminal prosecutions, the HHS Office of the Inspector General (OIG) has sought to exclude providers who have committed fraud from participation in healthcare programs in the future. A total of 3,244 individuals and entities were excluded in FY 2017. Some have even lost their licenses due to their alleged activities. In August of last year, Attorney General Sessions announced the formation of the Opioid Fraud and Abuse Detection Unit as part of the ongoing battle to combat healthcare fraud and abuse. Prosecutors have already charged several entities with the unlawful distribution of opioids.


Texas-based Radiation Therapy Company Agrees Pay More than $11 Million to Settle Allegations that it Violated False Claims Act

Alleged violators of the False Claims Act often come up with elaborate schemes when it comes to illegally profiting from government healthcare programs. However, this has not deterred the government in its efforts to crack down on fraud and abuse. Case in point: The justice department announced last week that SightLine Health (SightLine) has agreed to pay $11.5 million to settle allegations that it not only violated the False Claims Act but that it also violated the Anti-Kickback Statute as well. The government alleges that in doing so, SightLine submitted false claims to the Medicare program. Oncology Network Holdings, LLC – which acquired SightLine back in 2011 – will share in the cost of the settlement. The Anti-Kickback Statute – also known as the Stark Law – is designed to ensure that financial incentives do not influence a physician’s medical decisions. It prohibits anyone from offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remunerations for items or services covered by federally funded programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, etc. As is often the case, claims found to be in violation of the Anti-Kickback statute can be subject to the False Claims Act too.

“Investment arrangements that are structured to improperly compensate physicians for referrals can encourage physicians to make decisions based on financial gain rather than the best interest of their patients,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to preventing illegal inducements, in whatever form, that undermine the integrity of our public health programs.” The settlement reached last week resolves allegations that SightLine violated the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act by targeting physicians who referred patients to cancer treatment centers. Specifically, SightLine is alleged to have formed several leasing companies that allowed referring physicians to invest and profit from such referrals. SightLine is then alleged to have distributed the profits gained through radiation therapy treatments on cancer patients to physicians-investors.

“As the professionals charged with recommending and referring medical procedures for our community, physicians’ primary motivation must remain the well-being of their patients,” said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. “Today’s settlement demonstrates our determination to eliminate complex business ventures that improperly interpose financial considerations into our physicians’ medical judgment.”

In addition to having to pay $11.5 million to settle the allegations, ION, SightLine and their related entities have been made to enter into a five-year Corporate Integrity Agreement (CIA) with HHS-OIG. The agreement is intended to increase accountability and transparency and to ensure that SightLine, etc., behaves in an ethical and lawful manner going forward.

“Companies seeking to boost profits by paying physicians kickbacks for patient referrals undermine impartial medical judgment and increase health care costs for everyone,” said Chief Counsel to the HHS Inspector General Gregory Demske. “We will continue to investigate such illegal, wasteful business arrangements in order to protect government health programs and the patients served by them.”

The allegations that are the basis of this settlement were originally the basis of a lawsuit filed under the qui tam or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act. This act permits private parties to sue alleged violators of the False Claims Act on behalf of the government. Plaintiffs can do so by utilizing the services of a qui tam law firm. Qui tam Medicare cases have increased since the government began its crackdown on fraud and abuse back in 2009. Under this law, private parties are then able to share in any recovery. The whistleblower in this case will receive up to $1.725 million.


Prominent Medical Device Manufacturer Agrees to Pay More than $33 Million to Resolve Alleged False Claims Act Violations

Health care providers and the manufacturers of medical devices who put patient care at risk remain on notice from the federal government even as last year saw the US bring a record number of violators to justice. This was the case again, when the Justice Department announced last month that Alere, Inc. – a Massachusetts-based medical device company – and Alere San Diego (Alere) have agreed to pay the United States $33.2 million to resolve allegations that the companies submitted false claims to Medicaid, Medicare and other government programs. Moreover, the government accused the companies of knowingly selling unreliable point-of-care diagnostic devices. “The United States is fortunate that innovative healthcare companies regularly develop medical devices that improve patients’ lives, often in remarkable ways,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler for the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “But the Department will hold medical device manufacturers accountable if they knowingly sell defective products that waste taxpayer dollars and adversely impact patient care.”

Specifically, the government alleged that between 2006 and 2012, Alere knowingly sold faulty point-of-care testing devices under the brand name Triage®. The devices were designed to aid in the diagnosis of acute coronary syndromes, heart failure, drug overdosing and other serious conditions. The devices were often used in ER departments to aid doctors in making timely medical decisions. The government says that it put Alere on notice after it received complains about the device’s erroneous results. Often the devices produced false negatives and positives, etc. Despite warnings from the government, Alere is alleged to have failed to take the proper corrective actions regarding their devices until the FDA prompted a recall of Triage® in 2012. Of the more than $33 million Alere has agreed to pay, $28,378,893 will be returned to the federal government and a total of $4,860,779 will be returned to individual states. (Several states jointly funded claims for Triage® devices submitted to state Medicaid programs.)

“Congress passed the False Claims Act on March 2, 1863 to protect taxpayer dollars from fraud and abuse and to allow private citizens to join the effort,” said Maureen R. Dixon, Special Agent in Charge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General in Philadelphia. “We will continue to work with concerned citizens, the Department of Justice and our investigative partners to ensure the federal government only pays for honest, high quality, health care products and services.”

The Alere settlement sprang from a whistleblower action that was filed by a former senior quality control analyst at the company – Amanda Wu. The whistleblower or qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the federal government with or without a qui tam lawyer and to receive a share of any recover. A whistleblower law firm handles cases involving plaintiffs who have reported alleged False Claims Act violations. As part of the Alere settlement in this case, Ms. Wu will receive approximately $5.6 million.


Two Health Care Providers Agree to Pay More than $20 Million to Settle Alleged False Claims Act Violations

The government’s crackdown on fraud has put the spotlight on the Anti-Kickback statute and others laws that are designed to maintain the integrity of the healthcare system. Thus earlier this month, the Justice Department announced that UPMC Hamot (Hamot) a Pennsylvania-based hospital affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Medicor Associates, Inc. (Medicor), a cardiology practice, have agreed to pay $20.75 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit. The government alleges that the UMPC and Medicor knowingly submitted false claims to Medicare and Medicaid and that they violated the Anti-Kickback Statute.

The Anti-Kickback Statute (42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b) prohibits offering, paying, soliciting or receiving remunerations to induce the referral of items and/or services covered by Medicare or any other federally funded program. The Physician Self-Referral Law (42 U.S. Code § 1395nn) – which Medicor and Hamot have also been alleged to have violated – prohibits hospitals from billing Medicare for services referred by physicians whom the hospital has an improper compensation arrangement. Both laws are intended to ensure that medical decisions are made on the basis of patient need and not upon financial incentives.

“Federal law prohibits physicians from entering into financial relationships that may affect their medical judgment and drive up health care costs,” said U.S. Attorney Scott W. Brady. “Today’s settlement demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that health care decisions are made based exclusively on the needs of the patient, rather than the financial interests of health care providers.”

The settlement sprung from a whistleblower action filed under the False Claims Act. Under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, private parties are able to sue for false claims with or without a false claims act lawyer and to share in any recovery. (A qui tam lawyer handles cases involving whistle blowing as it relates to the False Claims Act.) The original lawsuit alleged that from 1999 to 2010, Hamot paid Medicor 2 million per year to secure patient referrals. Some of these services were either repeated or were not performed.

“Financial arrangements that improperly compensate physicians for referrals encourage physicians to make decisions based on financial gain rather than patient needs,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to preventing illegal financial relationships that undermine the integrity of our public health programs.” The whistleblower in this case is Dr. Tulio Emanuele. Emanuele worked for Medicor from 2001 to 2005. In March of last year the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled that Hamot’s arrangements with Medicor did indeed violate the Physician Self-Referral Law (also known as the Stark Law). Dr. Emanuele will receive $6,017,500 as his share of the settlement.


Home Furnishings Company Agrees to pay $500,000 To Settle Alleged False Claim Act Violations

Although the False Claims Act has been used to expose Medicaid and Medicare fraud, it is also a handy tool for exposing fraud in other areas of government as well. Last month the Justice Department proved this when it announced that Home Furnishings Resources Group, Inc. (HFRG) has agreed to pay a half million dollar fine for violating the False Claims Act regarding its shipment of wooden bedroom furniture. The government alleges that the company did so to avoid playing anti-dumping fees from furniture imported from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). HFRG sells furniture that is heavily used in university student housing.

“The customs laws are intended to protect domestic companies and American workers from unfair foreign competition,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Chad A. Readler of the Justice Department’s Civil Division. “This settlement shows our commitment to pursue those who violate these laws and gain an illegal advantage in U.S. markets by evading the import duties owed on foreign-made goods.” Brenda Smith, Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Trade, CBP added at the time, “CBP is committed to ensuring a level playing field for all American businesses. We work with our federal partners to hold accountable those looking to circumvent U.S. trade laws.”

The settlement with HFRG resolves allegations that the home furnishings company sought to evade anti-dumping duties on its wooden furniture that it’s important from the PRC between 2009 and 2014. HFRG did so by misclassifying the furniture as non-bedroom furniture on official documents. (Non-bedroom furniture was not subject to an anti-dumping duty at the time.) The anti-dumping laws are designed to protect foreign companies from “dumping” products on the US at prices below cost. These duties are collected and assessed by the Department of Commerce, the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Wooden bedroom furniture imported from the PRC has been the subject of anti-dumping duties since 2004. At the time, the wooden furniture HFRG imported from the PRC was subject to a 216% anti-dumping duty.

The impetus for this settlement came from a lawsuit that was filed by University Loft Company, a competitor of HFRG, under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. This act permits private parties to sue for false claims and to share in any recovery. University Loft Company is slated to receive approximately $75,000 as its share of the recovery. The government has, since 2009, sought to aggressively pursue people and companies that are alleged to have committed fraud against its agencies. Individuals who report alleged acts of fraud are able to use a whistleblower law firm to protect their interest and to consult with a false claims act attorney. The government, through its actions against companies and individuals that have been accused of fraud, has recovered billions of dollars since 2009.


The United States Files False Claims Act Complaint Against Several Healthcare Providers and a Private Equity Firm Alleging Payment of Kickbacks

The government’s campaign to eradicate Medicare and Medicare (and sometimes TRICARE) fraud continues to net healthcare providers who stress financial considerations over patient well-being. This time the government’s pursuit of such alleged violators involves a marketer as well. The Department of Justice announced last week that it has filed a complaint against Diabetic Care Rx LLC, alleging that the compounding pharmacy located in Florida participated in an illegal kickback scheme involving TRICARE. (TRICARE is the federally-funded health care program for military personnel and their families.) In the same action, the government has also brought claims against Patrick Smith and Matthew Smith, two pharmacy executives, and Riordan, Lewis & Haden Inc. (RLH), a private equity firm based in Los Angeles, California, which manages both the pharmacy and the private equity fund that owns the pharmacy for their involvement in the scheme.

“The Department of Justice is determined to hold accountable health care providers that improperly use taxpayer funded health care programs to enrich themselves,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Chad A. Readler. “Kickback schemes corrupt the health care system and damage the public trust.” The defendants are alleged to have paid kickbacks to marketing companies to target TRICARE beneficiaries for certain prescription medications without regard to patient need. According to the complaint, these prescriptions were manipulated to ensure the highest possible reimbursement from TRICARE. Moreover, the defendants and certain marketers allegedly paid doctors to prescribe these medications without seeing the patients. The scheme is thought to have generated tens of millions of dollars in reimbursements from TRICARE in a matter of months. Finally, the participants in this kickback scheme allegedly split the profit from these activities which violates the Anti-Kickback Statute (42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7b). This statute makes it illegal to exchange (or offer to exchange), anything of value, in an effort to induce (or reward) the referral of federal health care program business.

“The Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) is committed to protecting the integrity of TRICARE, the military health care program that provides critical medical care and services to Department of Defense beneficiaries,” said Special Agent in Charge John F. Khin, of the Southeast Field Office. “In partnership with DOJ and other law enforcement agencies, DCIS continues to aggressively investigate fraud and corruption to preserve and recover precious taxpayer dollars to best serve the needs of our war fighters, their family members, and military retirees.”

The government’s lawsuit originally arose from a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida by Marisela Medrano and Ada Lopez, two former employees of PCA. Their lawsuit was filed under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act. This Act permits private parties to sue for false claims and to share in any recover with or without a qui tam attorney. The Act also permits the United States to intervene in such lawsuits. This matter was investigated by several governmental and state agencies including the Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida. Qui tam Medicare lawsuits have increased since the government began its crackdown on Medicare fraud and abuse.

Since this case has not yet been resolved, it is important to note that claims asserted against the defendants are allegations only and that there has been no determination of liability


Kentucky Physicians Agree to Pay Nearly $3 Million to Settle False Claims Allegations Related to Fraudulent Medical Claims

One problem of those who allegedly defraud government healthcare programs cause is that they divert resources from those who are in need. Thus, a spokesman for the Justice Department announced earlier this month that several otolaryngologists – Phillip B. Klapper, M.D., Patricia Klapper, and Phillip B. Klapper, P.S.C. (collectively, “Klapper”) – have agreed to pay the government a $2,791,758 settlement to resolve claims that the group improperly billed a federal healthcare program for audiological services and hearing aids. “Pursuing healthcare fraud is a priority of this Office and of the Department of Justice. We will continue to work with the Department of Labor and with other governmental agencies to ensure that fraudulent claims are investigated and those responsible are required to pay,” stated United States Attorney Russell M. Coleman. “Medical providers who overbill federal healthcare programs defraud the taxpayers and drive up the cost of healthcare for us all. Recovering taxpayer dollars lost to fraud helps keep strong those critical public healthcare programs so many people depend on,” said Coleman.

The United States alleged that the doctors, known as “Klapper”,  knowingly submitted false claims which sought reimbursement for audiological procedures that were either not performed by certified personnel or that they altered in order to make the test results appear as if some claimants had hearing loss when indeed they did not. Moreover, the government contends that the doctors sought to exploit the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act. This act is the worker’s compensation program for federal employees. It is administered by the Department of Labor’s Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Klapper has paid $2.79 million to settle the claims arising from such alleged conduct. Additionally, Klapper has agreed to be permanently banned from future participation in the Federal Employees’ Compensation Act program. The settlement came about as the result of a qui tam suit that was filed by Kimberly Cummings, a former employee of Klappers. Her lawsuit utilized the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. This law allows private individuals to sue for false claims on behalf of the federal government with or without a qui tam lawyer and to receive a share of any recovery. (Qui tam law firms, also known as “whistleblower” law firms, represent people who report alleged false claim violations.)

The matter was handled by Assistant United States Attorney L. Jay Gilbert, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Kentucky, and the U.S. Department of Labor.


Healthcare Provider Agrees to Pay $1.5 Million to Settle Alleged False Claims Act Violations Involving Unauthorized Physical Therapy Services

Monies taken from vital programs such as TRICARE and Medicare are bound to raise the ire of the FBI as was demonstrated last month when it investigated a leading healthcare provider for such actions. A spokesperson for the Justice Department announced back in January that Scripps Health (Scripps), a health care system based in San Diego, agreed to pay $1.5 million to resolve charges that it violated the False Claims Act by charging government health care programs for physical therapy services that were rendered by therapists who did not have billing privileges to charge for these services. “Federal health care programs require that services are rendered by authorized providers or under the appropriate supervision of an enrolled physician,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Division Chad A. Readler. “These requirements help protect patients from unscrupulous or unqualified medical professionals. The Department of Justice will continue to ensure that those who knowingly violate these requirements face appropriate consequences.” “Holding providers accountable protects patients and tax-payer funded health care programs,” said Eric S. Birnbaum, FBI Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego Field Office.

Specifically, the government alleged that Scripps billed Medicare and TRICARE for physical therapy services which were then provided by physicians who did not have billing privileges. The government also alleges that this was done without the appropriate supervision by a physician. “This settlement illustrates the United States Attorney’s Office’s continued commitment to protecting the integrity of the Medicare and TRICARE programs,” said U.S. Attorney Adam L. Braverman. “Unlawfully obtained payment from taxpayer-funded programs harms the entire health care system. We will hold accountable all providers who defraud these programs.”

 

The settlement came about as the result of a lawsuit that was filed by Suzanne Forrest, a former Scripps employee, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. These provisions permit private individuals to sue for false claims on behalf of the government. The qui tam provisions also allow private individuals who do file suit against alleged violators of the False Claims Act to share in any recovery. Claimants can do so with or without the aid of whistleblower lawyers or by using a qui tam law firm. As part of this settlement, Ms. Forrest will receive $225,000. The civil lawsuit was filed in the Southern District of California and is captioned United States ex rel. Forrest v. Scripps Health, Case No. 16-CV-0634.

Tips and complaints from all sources about potential fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement can be reported to the Department of Health and Human Services at 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).


Tennessee Doctor Pays More than $1 million to Settle Alleged Violations of the False Claims Act

America has long been diagnosed with an opioid problem. This problem is exacerbated by physicians who inappropriately prescribe these painkillers to their patients. Thus, the Justice Department announced last week that a Tennessee-area chiropractor has paid $1.45 million, plus interest, to resolve allegations of False Claims Act violations. The settlement also calls for a pain clinic nurse practitioner to surrender her DEA registration and pay $32,000 because she allegedly violated the Controlled Substances Act. Four pain clinics managed by Matthew Anderson and his company PMC LLC – Cookeville Center for Pain Management; Spinal Pain Solutions in Harriman; Preferred Pain Center of Grundy County in Gruetli Laager; and McMinnville Pain Relief Center – are now closed as a result of this matter.

The medications Anderson is accused of having improperly billed Medicare include painkilling Opioids. “More Americans are dying because of drugs today than ever before—a trend that is being driven by opioids,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “If we’re going to end this unprecedented drug crisis, which is claiming the lives of 64,000 Americans each year, doctors must stop overprescribing opioids and law enforcement must aggressively pursue those medical professionals who act in their own financial interests, at the expense of their patients’ best interests. Today’s settlement is a positive step that will help save lives, as well as protect taxpayers’ money, in Tennessee and across the United States.”

The government claims that from 2011 through 2014, Anderson and PMC encouraged pharmacies to submit requests for Medicare for pain killers including opioids for no legitimate medical purpose. The medications were written at the Cookeville Center for Pain Management. The government also contends that Anderson caused all four of his clinics to bill Medicare for office visits that were not reimbursable at the levels he claimed they should be. Finally, the government claims that Anderson and PMC caused the submission of Medicare claims by two nurse practitioners who were not participating with a physician as required by Tennessee law.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, Anderson and PMC paid $1.45 million, plus interest. The government will receive the lion share of that amount while the state of State of Tennessee will receive more than $150,000. Anderson and PMC have also been excluded from billing federal health care programs for five years. Lastly, three of the clinics Anderson was involved with will forfeit $53,840 and have their bank accounts seized by the United States. A second part of the settlement agreement requires that Cindy Scott, a nurse practitioner from Nashville, to pay $32,000 to the government and to surrender her DEA registration until October of 2021.

The United States and Tennessee initiated their investigation of this matter after a former office manager for the Cookeville Center for Pain Management filed a qui tam lawsuit against Anderson, et al. The qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claim Act allows private citizens – with or without a qui tam attorney – to sue on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery. The whistleblower will receive $246,500 under the settlement.