November 30, 2022

Volume XII, Number 334

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November 29, 2022

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November 28, 2022

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Department of Justice Announces “Strike Force Teams” Focused on Pandemic Fraud

As part of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) crackdown on white-collar crime, it has announced the creation of “strike force teams” focused on pandemic fraud – a type of crime that usually involves unlawfully participating in the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, unemployment insurance programs or COVID-19 health care. These teams will be made up of federal prosecutors and law enforcement agents from the FBI, Secret Service, IRS and more than a half-dozen other executive agencies. According to Attorney General Merrick B. Garland, the teams will “build on the Department’s historic enforcement efforts to deter, detect and disrupt pandemic fraud wherever it occurs,” and will add to the DOJ’s already considerable pandemic fraud prosecution efforts. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the DOJ has charged over 1,500 defendants with crimes in federal districts across the country and seized over $1.2 billion in misappropriated relief funds.

The creation of strike force teams demonstrates that federal law enforcement will continue to scrutinize individuals and companies that participated in COVID relief programs. If law enforcement concludes that its targets acted improperly, formal investigations and prosecutions may follow.

Because of the DOJ’s new surge of resources for its pandemic fraud investigations, companies that participated in COVID relief programs should consider what steps they can take to mitigate potential criminal consequences. For example, the DOJ has recently announced new policies related to a corporation’s disclosure of criminal acts. If a company or its employees has committed pandemic fraud, self-disclosure can lead to a more favorable corporate outcome.

Varnum has significant experience counseling and representing companies and individuals during government investigations, proffers, and prosecutions related to the PPP and other forms of pandemic fraud. For more information, contact a member of Varnum’s White Collar Defense and Government Investigations team.  

© 2022 Varnum LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 271
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About this Author

Ron Dewaard, Varnum, litigation attorney
Partner

Ron is a trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor who concentrates his practice in civil and white collar litigation, as well as internal investigations. He is a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been recognized as one of Michigan's top lawyers by Best Lawyers®Super Lawyers®, Benchmark Litigation© and by Michigan Lawyers Weekly as a Leader in the Law. Ron is also chair of the firm's Litigation Practice Team.

Before joining the firm, Ron served as an Assistant United States...

616-336-6480
Gary J. Mouw Varnum Litigator
Partner

Gary’s practice is primarily focused on representing companies and individuals – in Michigan and across the country – in connection with government enforcement actions and white collar criminal defense. He has extensive experience conducting internal investigations in a wide range of matters, including antitrust claims, False Claims Act suits, and environmental matters. Gary has represented clients in investigations conducted by the United States Department of Justice, the United States Attorney’s Offices throughout the country, the United States Department of Defense,...

616-336-6424
Regan Gibson Litigation Attorney Varnum Law Firm
Associate

Regan is a member of the Litigation and Trial Team. She represents clients in a variety of civil and criminal litigation matters and internal investigations. Her experience includes RICO, FCPA, securities, criminal antitrust, civil and criminal forfeiture, and shareholder fiduciary and appraisal actions. She has conducted internal investigations related to antitrust, FCPA, immigration and public integrity compliance issues.

Prior to receiving her law degree, Regan was a paralegal specialist in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, where she served in the Violent...

616/336-6240
Neil E. Youngdahl Litigation Attorney Varnum LLP Law Firm Grand Rapids Michigan
Associate

Neil is a member of the firm’s litigation group.  Before joining Varnum, Neil clerked for the Hon. Sean F. Cox on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and for the Hon. Richard Allen Griffin on the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  During his clerkships, Neil worked on hundreds of civil and criminal cases, gaining experience on the full spectrum of cases that come before a federal court.

During law school, Neil interned for the Hon. Robert Holmes Bell on the United States District Court for the Western District of Michigan and for...

616/336-6961
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