Eastern District of Pennsylvania Forms Civil Enforcement Strike Force Adding Resources to False Claims Act Cases
On August 1, 2018, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania William M. McSwain announced the formation of an Affirmative Civil Enforcement (“ACE”) Strike Force within the U.S. Attorney’s Office Civil Division. The ACE Strike Force’s mission is to bring “additional firepower” to investigations and lawsuits that “prosecute fraud and abuse against government programs, including healthcare and procurement fraud,” as well as to enforce federal civil rights statutes and “combat the opioid crisis.” The ACE Strike Force will initially include five Civil AUSAs and a team leader.
U.S. Attorney McSwain stated that the Eastern District’s U.S. Attorney’s Office has a “deep bench of Civil attorneys who all contribute to the successful prosecution of affirmative civil enforcement.” He anticipates that the formation of the ACE Strike Force will allow the Office to focus on “critical matters,” including qui tam/whistleblower cases brought under the federal False Claims Act.
The Civil Division of the Eastern District -- Philadelphia and eight surrounding counties -- has a long history of being in the forefront of civil enforcement and has many experienced civil prosecutors who have handled significant health care fraud and other government contractor investigations and resolutions. U.S. Attorney McSwain’s announcement should be taken as fair warning that the Eastern District intends to aggressively investigate and prosecute fraud and abuse cases, consistent with current Department of Justice initiatives, focusing in part on health care fraud and the opioid crisis. The announcement could also be considered a call for relator/whistleblower counsel to bring their cases to the Eastern District because of the attention they can receive from the ACE Strike Force. Companies that conduct business in the Philadelphia area – which would include most large manufacturers of military equipment, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, hospital systems, insurers, and other healthcare providers -- should pay particularly close attention to U.S. Attorney McSwain’s effort to bring these important cases to the Eastern District.
Our Internal Investigations & White Collar Defense Group, with lawyers in both Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., has experience with the Eastern District Civil Division, including our time as prosecutors and defense attorneys. Several of us spent many years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and have worked closely with Department of Justice Civil Frauds' attorneys in Washington, D.C. Since we’ve joined Post & Schell, we’ve regularly appeared in False Claims Act cases and fraud-related criminal and administrative matters that were brought by the Eastern District and the local federal agencies. We represent corporations from all industries and of all sizes, as well as their employees.
Our group has deep experience dealing with the Eastern District:
- Our Group Chair, Ron Levine, former Chief of the Criminal Division of the Eastern District, has handled numerous civil fraud cases and parallel criminal and civil investigations since he started the Post & Schell White Collar Group. Ron was a Criminal AUSA in the Eastern District for 17 years and supervised government fraud and corruption cases for 12 of those years.
- Group Principal John Joseph was responsible for Affirmative Civil Enforcement at the Eastern District, serving as the Deputy Chief of the Office’s Civil Division for seven years. He was the inaugural recipient of the Department of Justice’s award for superior service in the area of Affirmative Civil Enforcement. He also served as a trial attorney at the Department of Justice Civil Frauds Section and as a Criminal AUSA in the Eastern District. John’s practice focuses on False Claims Act representations of healthcare providers and government contractors, in addition to criminal and administrative representations.
- Group Principal Matt Newcomer represents healthcare professionals and entities facing civil and criminal Controlled Substances Act and False Claims Act investigations involving prescription drugs, including opioids, and also represents individuals and entities facing scrutiny from the Justice Department and FDA regarding drug promotional activities. His representation of clients in government contracting fraud investigations includes defending against debarment and suspension proceedings that often accompany such investigations.
- Group Principal Abe Rein, who co-chairs the firm’s Information Privacy & Security Practice, brings to the table experience and expertise in information technology law, including government contractors’ obligations with respect to data security. He has represented clients from a variety of industries – from construction to not-for-profit, to healthcare – in civil False Claims Act matters in the Eastern District.
Our contact information is below.
Disclaimer: This post does not offer specific legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. You should not reach any legal conclusions based on the information contained in this post without first seeking the advice of counsel.
- Ronald H. Levine
- John N. Joseph
- Abraham J. Rein