Representation of Whistleblower in Grant Fraud Case Against Major University
A Hodgson Russ team led by Daniel C. Oliverio, and including John L. Sinatra, Jr., Reetuparna (Reena) Dutta, and Margaret M. Cmielewski, represented an employee of Columbia University who alerted the government of the school’s improper effort reporting in connection with a U.S. Health & Human Services (HHS) grant intended to fund its work in the area of AIDS/HIV prevention. A subsequent investigation revealed that Columbia, as administrator of the grants received through President Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program, failed to verify that ICAP, a Columbia-affiliated health program, was charging the grant only for work its employees performed in service of approved projects. Columbia agreed to pay more than $9 million to settle the allegations of false claims lodged against the university by the U.S. government under the False Claims Act, making it one of the largest-ever HHS grant fraud cases against an institution of higher education. The whistleblower represented by Hodgson Russ will receive a portion of the settlement proceeds. The whistleblower, who has been terminated from his position at Columbia’s ICAP, has also retained Hodgson Russ in his pending retaliation claim against the university.