Category Archives: Government Contract-Related Investigations and the False Claims Act

Will DOJ’s False Claims Act ‘Voluntary’ Dismissals Accelerate Under Attorney General Barr?

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It has been a few months since the 2015 “Yates Memo” was updated by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s announcement in late November 2018, as reflected by our colleagues in our White Collar Group.  While the principles behind the earlier policy were laudable – objectionable behavior will be deterred better when individual managers are at risk of criminal liability and financial ruin – the revised policy may not have had a sufficient time “in force” to result in actual behavioral modification.  At least from our vantage point of the government contracts industry.  Keep in [...]Read more

Chris Roux in U.S. News–Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” on the State of American Infrastructure

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Alston & Bird partner Chris Roux had his article, “Building Blocks: Everyone Agrees U.S. Infrastructure Is in Lamentable Shape,” published in the 2019 “Best Law Firms” edition of U.S. News–Best Lawyers.  The article evaluates the current condition of infrastructure in the United States and the extent to which Congress and the Trump administration can and/or will take action to remedy the problems.  Although there were high hopes, Congress has failed to pass major infrastructure legislation.  Roux evaluates the potential impact of public-private partnerships as a possible delivery [...]Read more

DOJ Advocates for Dismissal of False Claims Act Case, Urges SCOTUS Not to Clarify Escobar Materiality Standard

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In an unusual amicus brief, DOJ urged the Supreme Court of the United States not to grant certiorari in Gilead Sciences, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Campie because “continued prosecution of the suit is not in the public interest.”  DOJ argued that, should the case be remanded, it would ultimately seek dismissal itself under 31 U.S.C. § 3730(c)(2)(A). Presciently, Jeff Belkin and Mike Mortorano wrote for Law360 here about seeking DOJ dismissal of False Claims Act cases under that little-used provision, noting that DOJ may be sensitive to “closing off a legal theory of recovery in future [...]Read more

Alston & Bird 2018 GovCon Briefing and CLE: Washington, D.C.

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On October 24, the Government Contracts team at Alston & Bird hosted its inaugural briefing in Washington, D.C. discussing the latest developments and industry updates in the government contracts space.  Presenters included Jeff Belkin, Jeniffer Roberts, Jessica Sharron, Jeremy Silverman, Andy Howard, Mike Mortorano and Katherine Veeder. The topics addressed were a variety of industry developments and key areas that are particularly salient in the current GovCon market.  Jeremy Silverman and Jeniffer Roberts provided a valuable bridge between the GovCon world and the M&A market by [...]Read more

DOJ Crackdown on False Certification for Small Business Set-aside Award

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As discussed in prior blog posts, the DOJ over the last few years has continued to crack down on small-business contracting fraud, including “pass through” and “sham” contracting schemes. This trend has continued, and the DOJ recently cracked down on a subcontractor’s false certification for a government small-business set-aside program. On May 3, 2018, the DOJ announced that MassTech Inc. (MTI) and its CEO and CFO agreed to pay the United States $1.9 million to resolve allegations that MTI falsely certified it was a small business concern in order to obtain a Small Business Innovation [...]Read more

Jeff Belkin Quoted by Law360 on Leaked DOJ FCA Memo

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On January 25, 2018, Jeff Belkin was quoted by Law360 in the article “FCA Memo No Proof of New DOJ Direction on Dismissals,” which covers a recently leaked memo from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) detailing when DOJ attorneys should ask to dismiss “meritless” qui tam False Claims Act cases. The article covers varying viewpoints about what the impact of the memo will be on future FCA cases. Many FCA defense attorneys have reacted positively, some saying that the memo does suggest a change in policy. Others have reservations and remain unconvinced of actual policy changes. In the article, [...]Read more

Chris Roux and John Hanover Published in The Construction Lawyer on Implied False Certification Liability

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Alston & Bird partners Chris Roux and John Hanover had their article, “Implied False Certification Liability Under the False Claims Act: How the Materiality Standard Offers Protection after Escobar,” published in the Winter 2018 edition of The Construction Lawyer. The article takes an in-depth look at the viability of implied false certification claims under the False Claims Act by examining their use before and after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Escobar decision, the key elements of the decision, and how varying interpretations of the decision apply to the construction industry. Readers [...]Read more

Fifth Circuit Ruling Shows Government’s Actions Are Key Under Escobar

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Government contractors continue to closely follow the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark False Claims Act decision in Universal Health v. U.S. ex rel Escobar. Most recently, in U.S. ex rel Harman v. Trinity Industries, the Fifth Circuit considered the heightened standard whistleblowers must meet under Escobar to prove materiality if the government continued to pay claims despite its knowledge of misconduct allegations. In Trinity Industries, Trinity, a manufacturing company and government contractor, appealed the denial of its motion for judgment as a matter of law. The underlying [...]Read more

DOJ Continues to Crack Down on SBA Fraud

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On April 25, 2017, the DOJ announced that Michelle Cho, an officer of Far East Construction Corporation and other companies, received both prison time and civil penalties for her involvement as the mastermind of a fraudulent scheme to defraud the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) program. Under this scheme, Cho would bid for set-aside contracts for small, disadvantaged businesses under the SBA 8(a) program. However, Cho’s companies would not perform this work. Instead, other large companies would perform this work and pay 3 percent of the proceeds to Cho’s companies. This is another [...]Read more

Circuit Court Signals Potential Impacts of Escobar

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Lower courts have begun grappling with the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Universal Health Services, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Escobar. In U.S. ex rel. Sheet Metal Workers International Association v. Horning Investments, LLC, a union filed a qui tam lawsuit against Horning Investments, LLC. Horning, a roofing company, was acting as a subcontractor for a construction project for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The union claimed that Horning violated the False Claims Act by failing to pay union workers in accordance with the Davis-Bacon Act. Under the Davis-Bacon [...]Read more