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Whistleblower's reward for stopping fraud: $2.9 million

When he filed his whistleblower lawsuit, Vladimir Trakhter was not a high-powered executive privy to inside information about former employer Olympia Therapy Inc. He was a physical therapist assistant at the Ohio health care company back in 2008 when he began noticing disturbing behavior: the company was submitting claims to Medicare for rehabilitation therapy services that patients did not need.

Worse, he saw that some patients sustained injuries when they were forced to do therapies that their bodies could not tolerate. Because Trakhter filed a whistleblower lawsuit under the False Claims Act, the scheme by Olympia executives has been stopped. The company recently agreed to a settlement for $19.5 million; a deal that includes payment to Trakhter for $2.9 million.

Three companies -- Olympia, Tridia Hospice Care Inc. and Foundations Health Solutions Inc. -- agreed to settle the lawsuit brought in 2011 by Trakhter and a False Claims Act suit filed by two Tridia employees who will split $740,000. After the three whistleblowers have been paid, Medicare will be reimbursed for its losses, according to a newspaper report.

As our readers know, the False Claims Act allows whistleblowers to receive up to 30 percent of settlements and judgments.

According to the lawsuit filed against Tridia, the company began submitting false claims to Medicare for hospice benefits. It failed to conduct required medical exams and obtain certifications, the suit alleged.

"Failing to properly certify and recertify hospice patients can have a devastating impact on the patients and their families,” said U.S. Attorney Benjamin Glassman as he announced the settlement in the case.

The settlement mandates that the three firms will enter a 5-year Corporate Integrity Agreement with the federal government that provides for oversight and early fraud detection.

If you know of fraud against the federal government, you can speak with an attorney experienced in False Claims Act litigation by contacting the Milwaukee law offices of Alan C. Olson & Associates, s.c.

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