About Our Firm

Whistleblowers International

Piacentile, Stefanowski & Associates LLP d/b/a Whistleblowers International helps individuals bring whistleblower cases against companies who have defrauded the United States government, evaded taxes, violated securities laws, or endangered the public through corporate misconduct. We’ve built our practice through decades of experience with these specialized cases and lots of hard work from a dedicated team of attorneys and investigators. Whistleblower litigation, from the False Claims Act to SEC violations and IRS fraud, can be confusing without experienced counsel at your side. We take our commitment to the best client outcomes seriously: we want to see your interests protected and your devotion to justice honored.

Whistleblowers face significant challenges in the fight against fraud. Some are apparent risks, like counterclaims and employment retaliation, and some are more difficult for the less experienced to foresee. Our approach to case evaluation, development and strategy is designed from the ground up to mitigate the risk involved in blowing the whistle, build your case to get the government’s attention, and create the strongest possible position at the settlement negotiation table.

Our team consists of attorneys and investigators who have successfully collected billions of dollars on behalf of the Government and earned our clients millions in whistleblower rewards. Help us make a difference and blow the whistle yourself.

Based in Washington, D.C., Whistleblowers International brings a combination of experience, subject matter expertise, and strategic sophistication to our client-focused practice.

More than 20 years of experience

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Our attorneys have been involved in recovering billions of dollars for the Government in cases of illegal kickbacks, pharmaceutical off-­label marketing, Medicare and Medicaid billing fraud, injury by defective medical products and devices, and securities fraud.

We have collectively represented hundreds of whistleblowers and individuals involved in lawsuits against some of the largest corporations and pharmaceutical companies in the world. Our staff includes a former health care worker with years of experience working in all areas of medicine including medical equipment sales, pharmacies, hospitals, and private home health care.

Blowing the whistle on illegal misconduct can be both challenging and financially rewarding. Our team will help you protect your rights by assisting you step by step, from initial investigation through legal formalities and eventually, collecting your financial award.

 Joseph M. Piacentile, M.D., J.D., Esq. – C.E.O.

Joseph Piacentile, M.D., J.D., Esq., is the Founder and CEO of Whistleblowers Against Fraud, LLC (“WAF”), Whistleblowers International of Puerto Rico, LLC (“WBI”), and co-founder and CEO of Piacentile, Stefanowski & Associates LLP d/b/a Whistleblowers International. Dr. Joe has dedicated more than 28 years of his professional career to seeking justice against those who commit fraud against the U.S. government. Dr. Joe has assisted the U.S. government in recovering more than $9 billion dollars.

Dr. Joe, as he is called in the industry, has been in involved in all manner and types of whistleblower cases, including Federal and State False Claims Act cases, SEC Whistleblower cases, Foreign Corrupt Practice Act cases, California Department of Insurance fraud cases, and has consulted on shareholder class actions, mass tort liability claims, amongst many others.

Dr. Joe is a licensed physician, with a degree from Georgetown University Medical School, and a New York licensed attorney with a degree from New York Law School. He is an expert in a broad array of healthcare and pharmaceutical issues. Dr. Joe has developed an extensive arsenal of expertise across many industries, with a particular level of expertise in pharmaceutical and medical device medico-legal issues, such as illegal kickbacks, off-label marketing, misbranding and “white-coat marketing.”

In addition, he has been granted a number of US Patents for inventions in the marketing and dissemination of Pharmaceutical Point-of-Prescription (PoP) intelligent messaging, compliance and virtual communications of off-label information.

The system is designed to disrupt the way pharmaceutical companies message their products. The system allows pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare stakeholders to message physicians and providers based on real-time, patient-specific data. This means that FDA-approved messages can be embedded in the prescription process. This system affords tremendous efficiencies for the pharmaceutical sales process, real-time metrics, feedback, and total transparency for the government regulators, such as the FDA and the Department of Justice.

Whistleblowers International

Successes

  • June 19, 1996 – ADVANCED CARE ASSOCIATES PAID U.S. $4 MILLION TO SETTLE MEDICARE CLAIMS
    A Pennsylvania supplier of medical equipment and its former owners paid the United States more than $4 million today to settle allegations they defrauded Medicare of millions of dollars by filing false claims for reimbursement.
  • October 23, 2006 – MEDCO PAID $155 MILLION TO SETTLE FALSE CLAIMS ACT
    Cases Settled allegations that the company submitted false claims to the government, solicited and accepted kickbacks from pharmaceutical manufacturers to favor their drugs and paid kickbacks to health plans to obtain business.
  • September 28, 2007 – BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB AGREED TO PAY OVER $515 MILLION
    BMS and its subsidiary, Apothecon, paid illegal remuneration to physicians, retail pharmacy and wholesaler customers to induce them to purchase BMS drugs, causing the submission of false and fraudulent claims to the federal health care programs.
  • November 2, 2007 – HORIZON NATIONAL HEALTHCARE PLEADED TO CONSPIRING TO DEFRAUD MEDICAID OF APPROXIMATELY $5.5 MILLION
    Conspired to submit inflated claims for payment to Medicaid for services rendered to certain Medicaid patients at their adult medical day care centers. Those patients did not receive the claimed services.
  • March 27, 2008 – OTSUKA PAID MORE THAN $4 MILLION TO RESOLVE OFF-LABEL MARKETING ALLEGATIONS
    Otsuka knowingly promoted the sale and use of Abilify for pediatric use and to treat dementia-related psychosis, though the drug is approved to treat adult schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, but NOT dementia-related psychosis.
  • September 29, 2008 – CEPHALON PAID $425 MILLION FOR OFF-LABEL MARKETING VIOLATIONS
    Settled allegations with the U.S. government related to the illegal off-label marketing of three of its drugs – Actiq, Gabitril and Provigil. Bristol-Myers Squibb Paid $515 Million for Illegal Drug Marketing and Pricing Settled allegations with the U.S. government to resolve a broad array of allegations involving the company’s drug marketing and pricing practices.
  • September 15, 2010 – FOREST PHARMACEUTICALS PAID MORE THAN $313 MILLION TO RESOLVE CRIMINAL CHARGES AND FALSE CLAIMS ACT ALLEGATIONS
    Plead guilty to charges relating to the distribution of Levothroid, at the time an unapproved new drug, and the illegal promotion of Celexa for use in treating children and adolescents suffering from depression. The company also agreed to settle pending FCA allegations that Forest caused false claims to be submitted to federal health care programs for the drugs Levothroid, Celexa, and Lexapro.
  • May 7, 2012 – ABBOTT LABS PAID $1.5 BILLION TO RESOLVE DEPAKOTE INVESTIGATIONS
    Abbott plead guilty to misbranding Depakote by promoting the drug to control agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients and to treat schizophrenia when neither of these uses was FDA-approved.
  • July 2, 2012 – GSK PAID $3 BILLION IN LARGEST HEALTH CARE FRAUD SETTLEMENT IN U.S. HISTORY
    GlaxoSmithKline paid $2 billion to resolve its civil liabilities with the federal government under the False Claims Act. The civil settlement resolves claims relating to Paxil, Wellbutrin and Avandia, as well as additional drugs, and also resolves pricing fraud allegations.
  • December 19, 2012 – ERICSSON AGREES TO PAY OVER $1 BILLION TO RESOLVE FCPA CASE
    Ericsson subsidiary pleads guilty to FCPA violations. Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Ericsson or the Company), a multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, has agreed to pay total penalties of more than $1 billion to resolve the government’s investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA).
  • December 19, 2012 –AMGEN INC. PLEADS GUILTY TO FEDERAL CHARGE; PAYS $762 MILLION TO RESOLVE CRIMINAL LIABILITY AND FALSE CLAIMS ACT ALLEGATIONS
    Amgen pled guilty to paying illegal bonuses to medical chemotherapy doctors for overprescribing medically unnecessary chemotherapy to their patients.
  • March 5, 2013 – PAR PHARMACEUTICALS PAID $45 MILLION TO RESOLVE CIVIL AND CRIMINAL ALLEGATIONS RELATED TO OFF-LABEL MARKETING
    Par Pharmaceutical Companies Inc. pleaded guilty and agreed to pay $45 million to resolve its liability in the company’s promotion of its prescription drug Megace ES for uses not approved as safe and effective by the FDA and not covered by federal health care programs.
  • November 4, 2013 – JOHNSON & JOHNSON PAID $2.2 BILLION TO RESOLVE OFF-LABEL MARKETING AND KICKBACK ALLEGATIONS
    J&J agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion to resolve allegations it promoted Risperdal, Invega and Natecor for off-label uses. The company promoted Risperdal for use in children and individuals with mental illness, while knowing that the drug posed health risks to children.
  • February 21, 2014 –ENDO PHARMACEUTICALS PAID $192.7M TO RESOLVE LIABILITY FOR MARKETING PRESCRIPTION DRUGS FOR UNAPPROVED USES
    Marketed the prescription drug Lidoderm for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.
  • April 23, 2014 – AMEDYSIS PAID $150 MILLION TO RESOLVE FALSE CLAIMS ACT ALLEGATIONS
    Amedysis violated the False Claims Act by submitting false home healthcare billings to the Medicare program.
  • September 24, 2014 – ENZO BIOCHEM AND ENZO CLINICAL LABORATORIES PAID $3.5 MILLION
    Enzo wrongfully input diagnosis codes into claim forms that it submitted for payment to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
  • April 7, 2015 – PREVENTIVE MEDICINE ASSOCIATES PAID $9.3 MILLION FOR RUNNING MEDICAID KICKBACK AND FALSE BILLING SCHEME
    A Massachusetts doctor pleaded guilty, was sentenced to jail, and paid $9.3 million in restitution for running an intricate Medicaid fraud scheme involving millions of dollars in taxpayer funds.
  • October 29, 2015 – WARNER CHILCOTT PAID $125 MILLION FOR FELONY HEALTH CARE FRAUD SCHEME
    Warner Chilcott paid $125 million to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s illegal marketing of the drugs Actonel, Asacol, Atelvia, Doryx, Enablex, Estrace and Loestrin.
  • June 29, 2016 – CARDIOVASCULAR SYSTEMS PAID $8 MILLION FOR PAYING ILLEGAL KICKBACKS TO PHYSICIANS
    Cardiovascular Systems, Inc. paid illegal kickbacks to induce physicians to use the company’s medical devices.
  • October 17, 2016 – OMNICARE PAID $28 MILLION TO SETTLE TO SETTLE KICKBACK ALLEGATIONS
    Omnicare solicited and received kickbacks from pharmaceutical manufacturer Abbott Laboratories in exchange for promoting the prescription drug, Depakote, for nursing home patients.
  • January 17, 2017 – McKESSON PAID RECORD $150 MILLION SETTLEMENT FOR FAILURE TO REPORT SUSPICIOUS ORDERS OF PHARMACEUTICAL DRUGS
    In 2008, McKesson agreed to a $13.25 million civil penalty for failing to design and implement an effective system to detect and report “suspicious orders” for controlled substances. The government’s investigation developed evidence that even after designing a compliance program after the 2008 settlement, McKesson did not fully implement or adhere to its own program.
  • May 11, 2017 – $54 MILLION SETTLEMENT RESOLVING WHISTLEBLOWER CLAIMS AGAINST CARECORE NATIONAL LLC ANNOUNCED
    Seeger Weiss LLP and Milberg LLP today announced that the U.S. Department of Justice, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and several state Attorneys’ General Medicaid Fraud Units, have reached a $54 million settlement in a newly-unsealed healthcare fraud whistleblower action against CareCore National LLC. The company, headquartered in Blufton, SC, provides pre-authorization/pre-certification services for diagnostic testing to ensure that only medically reasonable and necessary tests are performed on patients and paid for by insurers. Of the $54 million recovery, $45 million will go to the federal government and $9 million will go to various participating states.
  • November 12, 2020 – ERANGA CARDIOLOGY TO PAY $500,00 TO RESOLVE HEALTH CARE FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
    The practice submitted claims for reimbursement to Medicare and Medicaid that required both performance of cardiology procedures and the generation of corresponding interpretive reports. The United States alleged that the practice submitted and received payment for these claims without generating th required interpretive reports.
  • December 21, 2020 – MEDICAL EQUIPMENT PROVIDER, APRIA HEALTHCARE TO PAY $40.5 MILLION FOR FRAUDULENT BILLING PRACTICES
    Apria submitted false claims to federal health programs, including Medicare and Medicaid, seeking reimbursement for the rental of costly non-invasive ventilators (“NIVs”) to program beneficiaries who were not using the NIVs such that the devices were not medically necessary or that involved the improper waiver of patient co-insurance payments.
  • August 25, 2021 – DOWNEY COMPANY THAT PROVIDES IN-HOME RESPIRATORY SERVICES TO PAY OVER $3.3 MILLION TO RESOLVE FRAUD ALLEGATIONS
    SuperCare Health, Inc., a Downey-based provider of home respiratory services and durable medical equipment, has agreed to pay $3,315,308 to resolve allegations that it defrauded public health care programs by billing for ventilator services that were not medically necessary or reasonable.
  • August 25, 2021 – GEORGIA PSYCHOTHERAPY SERVICES PROVIDER CARENOW TO PAY $2 MILLION TO RESOLVE FALSE CLAIMS ALLEGATIONS
    Carenow Services, LLC, a Roswell-based psychotherapy services provider, as well as its CEO Leena Karun (collectively “Carenow”), have agreed to pay $2 million to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by billing Medicare and Medicaid for psychotherapy sessions at nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities that were medically unnecessary, improperly documented, or billed at higher intensity levels than justified.

Dr. Joe In the News 

Welcome To The Whistleblower Winner’s Circle

One of the first successful whistleblowers I came into contact with was Dr. Joseph Piacentile.  Dr. Joe, the Founder and CEO of Whistleblowers Against Fraud, has assisted the U.S. government in recovering billions over the past 26 years. He is best known for his work fighting pharmaceutical fraud. […]

According to Dr. Joe,

‘Whistleblowing empowers each and every citizen to effect meaningful reforms in business and directly impact the lives of the millions of people who seek medical attention, who take prescription medications, who apply for federally-funded housing, or attend trade schools paid for with federal student loans and grants, and the precious men and women in our military who rely on the Defense industry for honest, safe, well-made equipment—equipment that won’t fall apart in the battlefield’.”

Forbes, May 17, 2018

Financial Frauds Worst Nightmare Might Be Whistleblower Joseph Piacentile”

FinancialFraudLaw.com, May 26, 2010  

Howard Solomons Career May Meet a Sad End

The Forest Laboratories CEO, who built his companys fortune on the antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro, faces exile from the health-care industry:

Forests troubles began in 2001, when Joseph Piacentile, a non-practicing physician in N.J., filed an action alleging that Forest was providing kickbacks to doctors who prescribed Celexa.”

Bloomberg BusinessWeek, July 14, 2011

“Here is a qui tam riddle: What does Wednesday’s False Claims Act suit against Forest Laboratories have in common with the FCA cases against Medco Health Solutions (settled in 2006 for $155 million), Bristol- Myers Squibb (settled in 2007 for $515 million), and Cephalon Inc. (settled in 2008 for $425 million)? 

Oh sure, they’re all suits against pharmaceutical companies accused of illegal marketing. And yes, they were all initiated by whistleblowers who then persuaded the federal government to intervene. But there’s something else that ties the cases together: Each featured a whistle-blower named Joseph Piacentile, a non-practicing New Jersey physician who now makes a living suing drug companies.”

The American Lawyer, February 27, 2009  

“Some call Joseph Piacentile a hero. Over the last 15 years, the New Jersey physician has been a whistle- blower in antifraud lawsuits that have returned more than $1 billion to the U.S. Treasury … charming and adept at getting others to talk about illicit behavior, say ten lawyers who have been involved in Piacentile cases, including James Sheehan, a former associate U.S. attorney for civil programs in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania”

The American Lawyer, June 1, 2010

Ericsson Agrees to Pay Over $1 Billion to Resolve FCPA Case
Ericsson Subsidiary Pleads Guilty to FCPA Violations
Department of Justice, Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, December 6, 2019

Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson (Ericsson or the Company), a multinational telecommunications company headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, has agreed to pay total penalties of more than $1 billion to resolve the government’s investigation into violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) arising out of the Company’s scheme to make and improperly record tens of millions of dollars in improper payments around the world.  This includes a criminal penalty of over $520 million and approximately $540 million to be paid to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a related matter.  An Ericsson subsidiary pleaded guilty today for its role in the scheme. 

Ericsson entered into a deferred prosecution agreement with the department in connection with a criminal information filed today in the Southern District of New York charging the Company with conspiracies to violate the anti-bribery, books and records, and internal controls provisions of the FCPA.  The Ericsson subsidiary, Ericsson Egypt Ltd, pleaded guilty today in the Southern District of New York to a one-count criminal information charging it with conspiracy to violate the anti-bribery provisions of the FCPA.  The case is assigned to U.S. District Judge Alison J. Nathan of the Southern District of New York.  Pursuant to its agreement with the department, Ericsson has committed to pay a total criminal penalty of $520,650,432 within 10 business days of the sentencing hearing, and has agreed to the imposition of an independent compliance monitor. 

“Ericsson’s corrupt conduct involved high-level executives and spanned 17 years and at least five countries, all in a misguided effort to increase profits,” said Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.  “Such wrongdoing called for a strong response from law enforcement, and through a tenacious effort with our partners in the Southern District of New York, the SEC, and the IRS, today’s action not only holds Ericsson accountable for these schemes, but should deter other companies from engaging in similar criminal conduct.”

“Today, Swedish telecom giant Ericsson has admitted to a years-long campaign of corruption in five countries to solidify its grip on telecommunications business,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York.  “Through slush funds, bribes, gifts, and graft, Ericsson conducted telecom business with the guiding principle that ‘money talks.’  Today’s guilty plea and surrender of over a billion dollars in combined penalties should communicate clearly to all corporate actors that doing business this way will not be tolerated.”

“Implementing strong compliance systems and internal controls are basic principles that international companies must follow to steer clear of illegal activity,” said Don Fort, Chief, IRS Criminal Investigation.  “Ericsson’s shortcomings in these areas made it easier for its executives and employees to pay bribes and falsify its books and records.  We will continue to pursue cases such as these in order to preserve a global commerce system free of corruption.”

According to admissions by Ericsson, beginning in 2000 and continuing until 2016, the Company conspired with others to violate the FCPA by engaging in a longstanding scheme to pay bribes, to falsify books and records and to fail to implement reasonable internal accounting controls.  Ericsson used third party agents and consultants to make bribe payments to government officials and/or to manage off-the-books slush funds.  These agents were often engaged through sham contracts and paid pursuant to false invoices, and the payments to them were improperly accounted for in Ericsson’s books and records.  The resolutions cover the Company’s criminal conduct in Djibouti, China, Vietnam, Indonesia and Kuwait. 

Between 2010 and 2014, Ericsson, via a subsidiary, made approximately $2.1 million in bribe payments to high-ranking government officials in Djibouti in order to obtain a contract with the state-owned telecommunications company valued at approximately €20.3 million to modernize the mobile networks system in Djibouti.  In order to effectuate the scheme, an Ericsson subsidiary entered into a sham contract with a consulting company and approved fake invoices to conceal the bribe payments.  Ericsson employees also completed a draft due diligence report that failed to disclose the spousal relationship between the owner of the consulting company and one of the high-ranking government officials.

In China, between 2000 and 2016, Ericsson subsidiaries caused tens of millions of dollars to be paid to various agents, consultants and service providers, a portion of which was used to fund a travel expense account in China that covered gifts, travel and entertainment for foreign officials, including customers from state-owned telecommunications companies.  Ericsson used the travel expense account to win business with Chinese state-owned customers.  In addition, between 2013 and 2016, Ericsson subsidiaries made payments of approximately $31.5 million to third party service providers pursuant to sham contracts for services that were never performed.  The purpose of these payments was to allow Ericsson’s subsidiaries in China to continue to use and pay third party agents in China in contravention of Ericsson’s policies and procedures.  Ericsson knowingly mischaracterized these payments and improperly recorded them in its books and records.

In Kuwait, between 2011 and 2013, an Ericsson subsidiary promised a payment of approximately $450,000 to a consulting company at the request of a sales agent, and then entered into a sham contract with the consulting company and approved a fake invoice for services that were never performed in order to conceal the payment.  The sales agent provided an Ericsson employee with inside information about a tender for the modernization of a state-owned telecommunications company’s radio access network in Kuwait.  An Ericsson subsidiary was awarded the contract valued at approximately $182 million; Ericsson subsequently made the $450,000 payment to the consulting company and improperly recorded it in its books.

As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, Ericsson has agreed to continue to cooperate with the department in any ongoing investigations and prosecutions relating to the conduct, including of individuals; to enhance its compliance program; and to retain an independent compliance monitor for three years.

The department reached this resolution with Ericsson based on a number of factors, including the Company’s failure to voluntarily disclose the conduct to the department and the nature and seriousness of the offense, which included FCPA violations in five countries and the involvement of high-level executives at the Company.  Ericsson received partial credit for its cooperation with the department’s investigation, which included conducting a thorough internal investigation, making regular factual presentations to the department, voluntarily making foreign-based employees available for interviews in the United States, producing extensive documentation and disclosing some conduct of which the department was previously unaware. 

Ericsson did not receive full credit for cooperation and remediation because it did not disclose allegations of corruption with respect to two relevant matters; it produced certain materials in an untimely manner; and it did not fully remediate, including by failing to take adequate disciplinary measures with respect to certain employees involved in the misconduct.  The Company has been enhancing and committed to further enhance its compliance program and internal accounting controls.  Accordingly, the total criminal penalty reflects a 15 percent reduction off the bottom of the applicable United States Sentencing Guidelines fine range.

In the related matter, Ericsson agreed to pay to the SEC disgorgement and prejudgment interest totaling approximately $540 million. The case is being investigated by IRS-CI.  Acting Assistant Chief Andrew Gentin and Trial Attorney Michael Culhane Harper of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney David Abramowicz of the Southern District of New York are prosecuting the case.  The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided assistance. The department appreciates the significant cooperation provided by the SEC and law enforcement authorities in Sweden in this case.

Dr. Piacentile has worked with the following law firms:

Phillips & Cohen

Berger & Montague

  Milberg

Sanders Phillips & Grossman

Boies Schiller Flexner

Stone & Magnanini

Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein

Motley Rice

Barron & Budd

Constantine Cannon

Mark Mueller Law Firm

Susman Godfrey

Blank Rome

Kessler Topaz

Seeger Weiss

Dean Zerbe

Venable

Kostelanetz & Fink

Molo Lamken

Sanford Heisler Sharp

Kirby McInerney

Kirk Chapman Law Firm

How we’re going to help you

We are proud of the successes we have obtained for our clients.  We represent clients across the country as well as international citizens living abroad.  During the investigative phase of a case, we combine the breadth of our industry experience with cutting edge research tools. This approach has helped us uncover some of the largest fraudulent schemes perpetrated in the United States and around the world.

Strong cases begin at the case development stage. We specialize in exposing additional layers of fraud through an in-depth research and investigation process. Our legal team includes former successful Qui Tam relators who will help build your case as well as guide you through the process of being a whistleblower. Help us make a difference by blowing the whistle today.

Take the first step

Get in touch today and we will provide you with the information and guidance you need to make an informed decision about exposing misconduct. Your consultation is 100% free and does not oblige you to take any action. You will always remain free to decide whether you wish to pursue a case yourself.

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