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Massachusetts U.S. Attorney’s Office Enters into MOU with Office of the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling recently announced that the U.S. Attorney’s Office (USAO) for the District of Massachusetts entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Special Inspector General Brian D. Miller of the Office of the Special Inspector General for Pandemic Recovery (SIGPR) to investigate and prosecute fraud in the distribution of the funds authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES Act).      

According to the press release, the MOU outlines the four following objectives:

  1. Provide a coordinated response to CARES Act funding fraud, with an emphasis on organized criminal activity, as well as criminal and civil fraud affecting federal money, vulnerable victims, and fraud recidivists;
  2. Speed up legal process, case intake, and prosecution of CARES Act-related fraud;
  3. Link and associate isolated CARES Act-related complaints with larger schemes and related unlawful activity; and
  4. Deter future CARES Act funding fraud by increasing awareness of successful criminal prosecutions and civil enforcement actions against individuals and companies involved in CARES-related financial fraud.

This announcement is further evidence that the federal government is prioritizing the investigation and prosecution of matters involving loans and other monies received through COVID-19 relief programs.  The alliance between the Massachusetts USAO and the SIGPR is significant for at least two additional reasons.

First, the Boston office of the Massachusetts USAO (Boston Office) is known for its proactive pursuit of fraud against the federal government.  As discussed in a prior post, the Boston Office has a history of initiating high-profile health care fraud investigations without waiting for a relator to file a qui tam action.  We expect to see a similar trend develop in the area of COVID-19 relief program fraud enforcement as well.  In fact, the Boston Office already filed the first COVID-relief fraud case in Massachusetts alleging that an individual filed fraudulent loan applications seeking more than $13 million in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program loans.

Second, the MOU demonstrates that predicted interagency cooperation – which we discussed in a previous post – is already underway, which will undoubtedly lead to a heightened level of enforcement activity.  In Tuesday’s press release, Special Inspector Brian D. Miller confirmed that “[i]dentifying fraud and preventing any waste or abuse of the money provided under the CARES Act is a top priority for both of our offices, and we are determined to bring those who attempt to steal from American taxpayers to justice.”

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About this Author

Karen Lovitch Mintz DC Health Care Compliance, Fraud & Abuse, and Regulatory Counseling Medicare, Medicaid & Commercial Coverage & Reimbursement Health Care Transactions Health Care Transactional Due Diligence Health Care Enforcement & Investigations

Karen focuses her practice on representing health care companies in regulatory, transactional, and operational matters. She has a substantial health care regulatory background and advises clients on matters pertaining to the federal anti-kickback statute, the Stark law, state statutes prohibiting kickbacks and self-referrals, the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988, and the federal Physician Payments Sunshine Act. Karen often applies her strategic insight on these matters to counsel companies on regulatory issues arising in connection with mergers and acquisitions and other...

Caitlin A. Hill Associate Product Liability & Complex Tort Complex Commercial Litigation

Caitie practices in all areas of complex litigation including commercial and business litigation, complex tort and product liability litigation, health care enforcement and defense, and construction law. She regularly advises clients in all stages of litigation, from pre-litigation counseling and investigation through discovery, trial and the appeals process. She is also well-versed in counseling clients on e-discovery and large data matters including commercial litigation, investigations, and governmental inquiries.

Caitie’s practice focuses on defending pharmaceutical and biotech...