A lawyer who has spent almost 30 years at the Justice Department has become an acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Civil Division.
Timothy Garren was named the acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division Torts Branch on March 7. He succeeds Ann Ravel, whom California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) appointed last month to a state commission that monitors ethics issues involving lobbyists and lawmakers. Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Civil Division named Ravel as one of his Deputy Assistant Attorneys General in May 2009.
Garren had been the Director of the Civil Division Torts Branch Constitutional and Specialized Tort Section since 2003. He previously served as Senior Trial Counsel in the Torts Branch from 1997 to 2003 and Trial Attorney in the the unit from 1990 to 1997 and 1983 to 1989.
He spent a stint as a Trial Attorney in the Environment and Natural Resources Division Environmental Enforcement Section from 1989 to 1990. Garren also was detailed to the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 1988.
Garren came to the Department through DOJ Honors Program after he clerked for Judge William W. Wilkins Jr. of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals from 1981 to 1983.
He received his law degree from the University of South Carolina in 1981 and his undergraduate degree from Wofford College in 1977.
The Justice Department has dramatically increased its use of a powerful administrative subpoena in False Claims Act investigations, Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Civil Division said Thursday.
Speaking at an American Bar Association conference in Washington on consumer protection, West said the DOJ issued six times more civil investigative demands last year than it had before the implementation of the 2009 Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act amendments to the False Claims Act. The new law allowed the Attorney General to delegate his authority to demand documents, depositions and interrogatories in False Claims Act investigations.
Since early last year, West and U.S. Attorneys have been able to approve civil investigative demands, increasing their use. The DOJ can use the administrative subpoena prior to filing a complaint or until it joins a qui tam action, a lawsuit filed by the public on behalf of the federal government. This allows the DOJ to demand documents, depositions and interrogatories from a potential defendant before it can carry out its own discovery.
“I think obviously there needs to be appropriate use of the CID because it is a powerful investigative tool,” West said. “But I do believe it ought to be used.”
The federal government picked up $3 billion in fiscal 2010 from settlements of False Claims Act cases. The DOJ only recovered more civil fraud claims in 2006, when $3.2 billion was recovered.
This story has been corrected.
Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Civil Division on Tuesday declined to set a time line for the resolution of discrimination lawsuits brought by female and Hispanic farmers. The farmers are increasingly frustrated by delays in the negotiations, which have been ongoing since May.
West said the Justice Department is “making progress” in its efforts to reach settlements with dozens of female and Hispanic farmers, who allege the Agriculture Department discriminated against them in the allocation of government loans and other aid. In late May, the DOJ offered a $1.3 billion settlement for the female and Hispanic plaintiffs to split. Stephen Hill, of Howrey LLP., the lead lawyer in the Hispanic farmers’ case, has said the sum is “woefully inadequate.”
“We are working very diligently and very hard on a resolution that treats all the individuals fairly,” West said at an unrelated news conference on DOJ settlements with drug makers.
Congress last month passed legislation that would approve an additional $1.15 billion for the Pigford settlement with black farmers, who allege similar discrimination as that by female and Hispanic farmers. The black farmers have already received more than $1 billion under a 1999 class action settlement with the government. However, the Pigford case was certified as a class action suit, while the courts rejected class action status for both the Hispanic and female farmers. Procedurally, this could make filing claims more difficult and expensive for farmers. President Barack Obama will sign the Pigford bill this week, West said.
Lupe Garcia, the lead plaintiff in the Hispanic farmers’ case, Garcia v. the Secretary of Agriculture, called on the government to propose a “fair and just settlement.” Garcia said he and his fellow claimants endured discrimination that was “no less painful than” the alleged prejudice against black farmers.
“While we are pleased that African- American farmers have received justice … why must we, Hispanic farmers, continue to wait for justice?” Garcia said in a statement.
Assistant Attorney General Tony West doesn’t usually field questions about assassinations.
But on Tuesday, the Justice Department’s Civil Division chief found himself talking about a case involving a U.S. order to kill an al-Qaeda operative in Yemen, during a news conference called to announce a settlement with pharmaceutical companies over their billing practices.
In response to a journalist’s query, West said he was pleased with a ruling Tuesday by U.S. District Judge John Bates in Washington, D.C., that dismissed a lawsuit challenging attempts to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, A U.S. citizen born in New Mexico suspected of helping plan attacks against the U.S.
Bates ruled that Al-Awlaki’s father, who filed the lawsuit, lacked standing, and that questions about targeted killings for national security reasons are “political” issues that shouldn’t be decided by the courts.
The Civil Division’s Federal Programs Branch, which litigates on behalf of the government, is under the supervision of West in the Civil Division.
“People need to remember that this really was an unprecedented case in which the plaintiffs were asking a court to review military decisions for the benefit of a leader of a foreign terrorist organization,” West told reporters. “And as we said when we filed this case, if Anwar al-Awlaki wants to access our court systems he ought to surrender to the authorities and be held accountable for his actions.”
West added: “Well clearly, we believe that this is a very dangerous individual.”
Former federal prosecutors were mostly victorious in their congressional bids for office Tuesday.
Ex-Justice Department lawyers won House and Senate races in Texas, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Arkansas. But two former DOJers lost races for the U.S. Senate seats in Iowa and Colorado.
With 91 percent of precincts reporting, Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), a former federal prosecutor, was elected to his fourth term with 65 percent of the vote. His challenger, Democrat Ted Ankrum, a former NASA executive, received 33 percent of the vote for the seat representing parts of Houston and Austin.
McCaul served in the DOJ Public Integrity Section and Civil Division in D.C. from 1991 to 1999, and as Chief of Counterterrorism and National Security Division in the Western District of Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office from 2002 to 2003.
Former U.S. Attorneys Tom Marino of the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Patrick Meehan of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut also won congressional elections, as did former interim U.S. Attorney Tim Griffin of the Eastern District of Arkansas.
But two former Justice Department lawyers did not fare as well.
On Wednesday morning, the Denver Post called the state’s Senate race for Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet. The race, between Bennet and Republican Ken Buck, a former Colorado Assistant U.S. Attorney from 1990 to 2001, remained close throughout Tuesday night. With 87 percent of precincts reporting, Bennet leads Buck by about 7,000 votes. According to the Denver Post, state law will require a recount if Buck closes the gap to less than 3,900 votes.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Democrat Roxanne Conlin, a former U.S. Attorney, received 33 percent of the vote in her bid to unseat Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). Grassley won 65 percent of the vote.
Conlin was the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa from 1977 to 1981. The former prosecutor was also the Democratic nominee for Iowa governor in 1982. Conlin has been in private practice since 1983. She is a partner at Des Moines law firm Roxanne Conlin & Associates PC.
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The manufacturer of Botox agreed to plead guilty in a False Claims Act case, in which the pharmaceutical company, Allergan Inc., was accused of unlawfully promoting the anti-wrinkle drug, the head of the Justice Department Civil Division announced Wednesday.
Allergan will pay $600 million in fines and forfeiture as part of the plea agreement, with $37.8 million going to the five whistleblowers in the case.
Assistant Attorney General Tony West of the Civil Division said Allergan illegally marketed Botox for applications that were not endorsed by the Food and Drug Administration, including treatments for headaches, pain, juvenile cerebral palsy and spasticity. He said the company also gave kickbacks to doctors to encourage them to use the drug for off-label purposes, in addition to showing them how to miscode Botox for billing claims.
West said the actions of Allergan aren’t “victimless crimes.”
“When our public health care programs are burdened with fraudulent charges, it drives the cost of health care up for all of us – consumers pay more in premiums; companies pay more to cover their employees,” West said at a news conference at DOJ headquarters. “And when a pharmaceutical manufacturer violates the integrity of the drug- approval process established by Congress and the FDA by paying kickbacks to encourage the off-label use of an unapproved drug, that not only undermines the judgments of health care professionals, but also threatens to put patients’ health and safety at risk.”
U.S. Attorney Sally Yates of the Northern District of Georgia, whose office assisted with the case, said the Justice Department is committed to ensuring that prescription drugs are safe and federal health care funds aren’t wasted.
“With cases like this one, we hope to put an end to the practice known in the pharmaceutical industry as off-label marketing,” Yates said at the news conference.
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William H. Orrick has been named head of the Civil Division’s Office of Immigration Litigation.
Assistant Attorney General Tony West announced the appointment in an e-mail to staff Wednesday.
The Office of Immigration Litigation employs about 310 attorneys and 100 support staff and is divided into two sections: the Appellate Section and the District Court Section. It has jurisdiction over all civil immigration litigation and is responsible for the nationwide coordination of immigration matters before the federal district and appeals courts.
Orrick came to the Justice Department as a counselor to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division in June 2009 after 25 years at Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass LLP, where he was a partner.
Orrick is the son of former U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick Jr., who died in 2003 and ran the Justice Department’s Civil Division during the Kennedy administration. His grandfather, William H. Orrick, was one of the founding partners of Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP.
The former head of the office, Juan Osuna, was recently named Associate Deputy Attorney General for Immigration Policy in Office of the Deputy Attorney General. He was appointed Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Immigration Litigation last May, and previously served as chairman of the Board of Immigration Appeals.
After a nearly 40-year career as a federal employee, Shirley Lloyd, the Director of Administration for the Civil Division, retired on Friday.
Lloyd spent about half of her government career in the Department of Justice, including stints at the Civil Rights Division and the former Immigration and Naturalization Service — which moved to the Department of Homeland Security in 2003. She has served as Director of Administration for the Civil Division for 10 years. In that role, she was responsible for overseeing the human resources of the Civil Division.
The Deputy Director of Administration, Roger Tweed, will serve as acting Director of Administration until his retirement on July 30.
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Defense contractor Kellogg Brown & Root Services billed the federal government for unauthorized private security guards in Iraq, the Justice Department alleged in a lawsuit.
The complaint, filed Thursday in federal district court in Washington, said 33 KBR subcontractors, as well as the company itself, used armed guards from 2003 to 2006 without approval from the Army. The company also failed to ensure that the guards were registered with the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior, as required, the department said.
Justice Department lawyers said in the complaint that the amount of taxpayer dollars lost to the alleged fraud would be determined at trial.
KBR was under contract to provide logistical support for military operations, including food services, transportation, laundry and mail. KBR and its subcontractors were required to use military protection, according to the complaint.
In addition to allegedly submitting bills with “impermissible costs” in violation of the False Claims Act, KBR is accused of flouting subcontract terms requiring travel only in military convoys, the department said.
KBR managers had expressed concerns that the Army would disallow costs for the private security contractors, but nonetheless charged the federal government for the unauthorized services, the complaint said. The company hired contractors Triple Canopy, Omega Risk Solutions, and Al Dhahir to provide security. KBR also used four of its own employees as armed security for company executives, the complaint said.
“Defense contractors cannot ignore their contractual obligations to the military and pass along improper charges to the United States,” said Tony West, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, in a statement.
In statement, the company strongly denied any violations of the law, noting that it filed claims of its own against the Army in 2008 to recover funds expended on security costs. The dispute is pending before the Armed Services Board of Contract Appeals.
“The Army breached the contract by repeatedly failing to provide the necessary force protection and, in fact, frequently left KBR, its employees and its subcontractors unprotected,” KBR said in the statement. “The absence of security provided by the U.S. Army made it more difficult and costly for KBR to fulfill its obligations.”
The complaint is embedded below.
In a move that is expected to speed up fraud investigations, Attorney General Eric Holder has signed an order allowing U.S. Attorneys to issue civil investigative demands under the False Claims Act.
The civil investigative demand is a potent administrative subpoena that covers documents, depositions and interrogatories. The Justice Department can issue CIDs before it files a complaint or until it joins a qui tam action — a lawsuit filed by a private citizen on behalf of the federal government — and thus before a potential defendant can conduct its own discovery.
Until January, only the Attorney General could approve CIDs, and, consequently, they were used sparingly. But in May 2009 Congress passed an anti-fraud bill that, among other things, allowed him to delegate the power to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division, Tony West. In a Jan. 15 order, Holder also permitted West to redelegate the authority to U.S. Attorneys, with a notice and reporting requirement.
The final rule will be published in Wednesday’s Federal Register.
Here is the key passage on CIDs:
Authority relating to Civil Investigative Demands issued under the False Claims Act is hereby delegated to United States Attorneys in cases that are delegated or assigned as monitored to their respective components. In accordance with guidelines provided by the Assistant Attorney General, each United States Attorney must provide notice and a report of Civil Investigative Demands issued by the United States Attorney. When a case is jointly handled by the Civil Division and a United States Attorney’s Office, the Civil Division will issue a Civil Investigative Demand only after requesting the United States Attorney’s recommendation.
The Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act of 2009 also gave the Justice Department more freedom to share information gleaned from CIDs with whistleblowers and federal and state agencies, effectively acting as a force multiplier. West has said he expects more frequent use of the CIDs, combined with greater information-sharing, to quicken the case flow, allowing the government to recover more tax dollars lost to fraud.
The Justice Department has recovered more than $3 billion in False Claims Act cases since January 2009.