The American Lawyer profiles serial False Claims Act whistleblower Joseph Piacentile.
Piacentile, a doctor in New Jersey, has played a part in several major qui tam cases against medical and pharmaceutical companies and is believed to have earned at least $17 million in whistleblower awards. While some in the qui tam community love the doctor and praise his work rooting out fraud, others are not so complimentary.
Piacentile was convicted of Medicare fraud and tax fraud in 1991. He’s also known for conducting his own investigations and surreptitiously recording conversations and phone calls to use as evidence. That tactic can sometimes complicate cases, said James Sheehan — a former Assistant U.S. Attorney for civil programs in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and now the New York State Medicaid inspector general — who worked on two cases with Piacentile. Undercover recordings are often difficult to get accepted as evidence in court.
Still whether they agree with Piacentile’s tactics or not, supporters say Piacentile gets the goods that more traditional law enforcement sources cannot.
The False Claims Act empowers people to find fraud and go chase it down,” said Mitchell Kreindler of Kriendler and Associates PC, a former lawyer for Piancentile. “The [Federal Bureau of Investigation] is not an insider [either]. We want to empower citizens just like law enforcement.”
Read the full profile here.