An experienced whistleblower attorney, successful trial attorney, former criminal prosecutor, and former reporter Representing whistleblowers reporting fraud on the Federal State Governments

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced its largest-ever whistleblower awards,  $83 million combined going to three whistleblowers who helped the agency reach a $415 million settlement with  Bank of America Corp according to an SEC statement and a lawyer representing the whistleblowers. That 2016 settlement was the SEC’s second-biggest against a Wall Street bank. As part of the agreement, Bank of America resolved accusations that it misused customer cash and securities to generate profits, putting billions of dollars of customer assets at risk over a roughly six-year period.
The SEC, in keeping with its usual practice, didn’t specify Monday which settlement the whistleblower awards were connected to. But Jordan Thomas, a partner at Labaton Sucharow LLP who advises corporate whistleblowers, said he represented the three award recipients cited anonymously in the SEC announcement. Two recipients together were awarded roughly $50 million and another about $33 million.

Mr. Thomas confirmed that the whistleblowers provided original information to the SEC that helped the regulator in its investigation.An SEC spokesman declined to comment.

Florida-bridge-300x184There was cracking seen on the Florida bridge project before it collapsed on Thursday, March 15th, in Miami. The Washington Post is reporting that the lead engineer on the project reported a crack via a voicemail that wasn’t retrieved until the day after the Florida bridge collapsed.

Not a “Safety” Concern

The company in charge of the design portion of the project is a private contractor, FIGG Bridge Engineers. It’s clear from the voicemail, left at the Florida Department of Transportation, that the lead engineer, Denney Pate, did not consider the crack an immediate safety issue. He just said it would need to be repaired.

Bitcoins are gaining popularity across the globe, but they are also attracting the attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC has handed down subpoenas to cryptocurrency projects like TechCrunch. According to Bitcoinist, the $100 million cryptofund is now under investigation. The investigation hints at the overall trepidation of governments around the world toward the cryptocurrency exchange.According to the site, TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington and his cryptocurrency fund have been subpoenaed, but Arrington says they aren’t the only company to come under investigation.He told CNBC on Thursday, “We received a subpoena. Every [crypto]fund I’ve talked to has received one. That’s fine. They just have to figure out what they want. They need to set up rules so we can all follow them, and the market is begging them for that.”

Just what the SEC is looking for seems to be a mystery. In the past, the commission has indicated that regulations in regards to securities laws do not apply to digital coins. The confusion is appearing to have a domino effect as cryptocurrency firms ban U.S. investors from projects, seemingly worried about further scrutiny. What is clear is that there is a nation-wide investigation through the SEC’s New York, Boston, and San Francisco which have issued multiple subpoenas, in “an attempt to learn as much as possible” about the fast-growing billion-dollar industry. The multiple investigations are leading those in the industry to believe it’s a coordinated and wide-reaching investigation

 The US is not the only country trying to leverage a certain amount of control over the cryptocurrency business. According to the article, South Korea still has mass confusion over the entire process, while China has banned Initial Coin Offerings and European financial authorities are calling for an all-out stop to cryptocurrency investments.Why are countries so concerned? Well it’s the very nature of cryptocurrency itself. Cryptocurrency transactions are encrypted. They can be tracked to a certain extent, but they provided a way to keep money and transactions secretive and out of sight for regulators.There is a certain risk the funds could be used to fund criminal activity or terrorism. Plus, they can be used to circumvent capital controls as companies investing in cryptocurrency could avoid taxes, penalties, and even possible seizure if a government suspects wrong doing.


Toyobo Co. Ltd. of Japan and its American subsidiary, Toyobo U.S.A. Inc., f/k/a Toyobo America Inc. (collectively, Toyobo), have agreed to pay $66 million to resolve claims under the False Claims Act that they sold defective Zylon fiber used in bullet proof vests that the United States purchased for federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies, the Justice Department announced today.  The settlement resolves allegations that  Toyobo, the sole manufacturer of Zylon fiber, knew that Zylon degraded quickly in normal heat and humidity, and that this degradation rendered bullet proof vests containing Zylon unfit for use.  The United States further said that Toyobo nonetheless actively marketed Zylon fiber for bullet proof vests, published misleading degradation data that understated the degradation problem, and when Second Chance Body Armor recalled some of its Zylon-containing vests in late 2003, started a public relations campaign designed to influence other body armor manufacturers to keep selling Zylon-containing vests.  According to the United States, Toyobo’s actions delayed by several years the government’s efforts to determine the true extent of Zylon degradation.  Finally, in August 2005, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) completed a study of Zylon-containing vests and found that more than 50 percent of used vests could not stop bullets that they had been certified to stop.  Thereafter, 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.This settlement is part of a larger investigation undertaken by the Civil Division of the body armor industry’s use of Zylon in body armor.  The Civil Division previously recovered more than $66 million from 16 entities involved in the manufacture, distribution or sale of Zylon vests, including body armor manufacturers, weavers, international trading companies, and five individuals.  The settlement announced today brings the Division’s overall recoveries to over $132 million.  The United States still has lawsuits pending against Richard Davis, the former chief executive of Second Chance, and Honeywell International Inc.

The settlement announced today resolves allegations filed in two lawsuits, one brought by the United States and the other filed by Aaron Westrick, Ph.D., a law enforcement officer formerly employed by Second Chance who is now a Criminal Justice professor at Lake Superior University.  Dr. Westrick’s lawsuit was filed under the qui tam, or whistleblower, provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private individuals to sue on behalf of the government for false claims and to share in any recovery.  The Act also allows the government to intervene and take over the action, as it did in 2005 in Dr. Westrick’s case.  Dr. Westrick will receive $5,775,000.

dangerous-waste-300x200One of the world’s largest drug manufacturing locations is becoming the center of a raging debate about the cost of good jobs versus safe drinking water. Hyderabad, India has become an economic center thanks to drug companies setting up shop. But alarming new reports say the monetary boost for the locals and big pharma has a hefty environmental price tag: pharmaceutical waste.

Pharmaceutical Waste Study

According to Technology Networks, drug companies in Hyderabad are dumping “untreated or inappropriately treated pharmaceutical waste into the environment.” There are several laws and regulations in place that detail how these drug manufacturers are supposed to treat waste, but a 2016 study highlighted that the companies were not following the guidelines.

pension-300x200Sears pensioners have requested the Superior Court in Toronto to appoint an investigator to look into the nearly $300 Million shortfall found in the company’s pension fund. They particularly want the investigator to assess the $3 billion in payments made to Sears Canada shareholders.

The former employees are particularly targeting the U.S. hedge fund ESL Investments and have included its CEO Eddie Lampert in the complaints. This CEO has been the head of Sears since 2005 and has received the majority of the $3 billion pay out.

Lampert has said the the shareholder payments were not questionable and that most of the money came from the sale of the company’s valuable real estate holdings. Lampert has claimed that his hedge fund company had significant financial losses after the Sears bankruptcy. He said that the demise of Sears Canada is mostly attributed to a failed restructuring plan that he opposed in 2016. He also believes that the pension shortfall has been overestimated and that the money will eventually be recouped.

A California-based company  Nectar Sleep has agreed to stop making false claims that its Chinese-made mattresses

are assembled in the United States, under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.

According to the FTC’s complaint, Nectar Brand LLC claimed in promotional materials that its mattresses were “Designed

Due to Chinese imports of honey, this popular product is one of the most tainted foods entering the United States. China has set up a network of honey companies to the tune of billions in profit in honey counterfeiting.In 2001, the U.S. saw that China was dumping in the American market and Chinese honey with a major tariff — $1.20 per pound. the Chinese honey was, and is, “dirty.” The Chinese honey was found to be adulterated with harmful antibiotics, lead, molasses, fructose, farm chemicals, or whatever masking agent the Chinese will think up next. Yet Chinese honey is still on American grocery shelves and doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. In order to evade the tariff, China sends its honey to a long list of Asian countries (particularly India) not subject to the U.S. import penalty. The Chinese honey is then given fake labels and point-of-origin documents, routinely repackaged and mixed with other honey, loaded on containers, and dropped into the U.S. market. The chop shop approach often results in ultra-filtrated honey: Pollen traces are literally removed, making the honey untraceable. But the process also leaves the honey devoid of color and taste. Solution? The chop shops just stir in extra honey made in India or Vietnam.

Texas A&M’s Vaughn Bryant, studied 60 honey samples from major retailers across 10 different states in 2011. His  showed that three-quarters of the honey samples had undergone the ultra-filtration process.The FDA has often appeared helpless because there is so much food imported into the United States.

In 2006, the U.S. government prosecuted the Alfred L. Wolff (ALW) company for illegal honey imports; ALW is a major food corporation headquartered in Germany. According to a 44-count indictment of the firm, over 2004-06, it laundered over 2 million pounds — 900 tonnes — of Chinese honey through India, evading nearly $80 million in duties.

The National Safety Council reports the likelihood of dying in preventable accidents is on the rise. The most startling increases include motor vehicle crashes and deaths caused by opioid overdoses. Every 10 minutes in the U.S. three people are killed. Preventable household injuries are now the third leading cause of death.  Fatal injury with accidental and unintentional causes has risen to one in 25. A staggering increase from one in 30 which was reported in 2004, according to the NSC.

Preventable Household Deaths and Injury

 The NSC cited 161,374 lives lost from these injuries alone in 2016. This statistic is almost as high as those for heart disease and cancer. If the injuries are not fatal, however, that leaves 847 people that could have serious injuries due to those car crashes, as well as a litany of other preventable common household accidents. The most common accidental causes of death include: a fall (odds are one in 119), dying in a fire (odds are one in 1,506) and choking on food (odds are one in 3,138).

shutterstock_505244407-300x188Pennsylvania cardiologist who sued his former colleagues and UPMC Hamot will receive $6 million as part of the $20.75 million whistleblower settlement.

According to GoEarie, Tullio Emanuele, M.D., claimed Hamot and the other defendant, Medicor Associates Inc., knowingly submitted claims to the Medicare and Medicaid programs that violated the Anti‑Kickback Statute and the Physician Self-Referral Law (the “Stark Law”).

Emanuele practiced with Medicor from 2001 to 2005. He contended that Hamot violated federal law between 2004 and 2010 by submitting claims, primarily to Medicare, while the hospital was paying millions of dollars a year to Medicor, an independent physician-owned group that remains in business.