Important information in this week' episode to stem fraudulent spending of climate money. As the federal and state governments begin to release large amounts of climate money, there will be areas of fraudulent spending by corporations and start ups. Fraud happens to almost every government endeavor that is going to spend large tranches of money. And most everyone in the climate efforts realizes that the climate money will have to be spent quickly because of the dire consequences of inaction. That is why oversight is so important because our country does not have the time or money to waste.
Often when a whistleblower or insider sees that the company is fraudulently spending money in a government contract, they don't really know where to go to report the fraud while protecting themselves. There is a federal law with similar laws in 29 states that allows anyone with original knowledge of the fraud, can sue the company on behalf of the federal or state government. Then the government decides if they want to join the case and settle or take the company to trial, the person that filed the case (called the relator) can get between 15-25 percent of the recovered money. If the government does not take the case, the relator can take the case through the courts on behalf of the government and get 25-30 percent of the recovered money. Since the federal qui tam law was rehabilitated in 1986, the federal government has recovered over $70 billion of fraudulently spend money.
Our guest in this podcast episode, attorney Josh Russ, has recently won $36 million in a jury trial brought by a relator. In this episode, we discuss qui tam law basics and explore how it can be used for climate and environmental money. Josh also explains how a relator can take a new strategy with the qui tam law which can include using standard federal environmental clauses in the climate money contracts. Climate advocates and dedicated people who work for companies getting climate contracts should listen and learn how the qui tam law can help stop fraudulent spending in the years ahead in climate spending.
Dina Rasor, executive director of Climate Money Watchdog, has extensive experience in investigating qui tam cases so if you think you might have a fraud case, please contact us in the Get in Touch tab on this website and we will review it and recommend how to proceed.
A former Assistant United States Attorney, Josh Russ is a principled and relentless advocate.
In 2013, after practicing healthcare regulation and litigation at a large corporate law firm, Josh joined the firm of Reese Marketos. During his time as an associate there, Josh tried a jury trial on behalf of a plaintiff financial firm involving debt owed to his client under multiple loan instruments. The case was settled just before closing arguments for more than $2 million. In addition, Josh represented two entrepreneurs in a commercial fraud and breach of contract matter that resulted in a favorable judgment for more than $5 million. The Fifth Court of Appeals in Dallas affirmed the judgment in 2016.
In 2015, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Texas offered Josh the opportunity to serve the American public as the Eastern District’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement (ACE) Coordinator. In that role, Josh oversaw and directed most of the Eastern District’s False Claims Act and civil Controlled Substances Act investigations and litigation. In less than five years, Josh’s work contributed to the recovery of more than $85 million in settlements, suspensions, and judgments on behalf of American taxpayers, most of which involved enforcement of the Anti-Kickback Statute and the False Claims Act. Josh was also named the Eastern District’s Civil Healthcare Fraud Coordinator, where he worked to develop the district’s parallel proceedings practices in accordance with Department of Justice policy.
For his work, Josh was awarded the Executive Office of United States Attorneys Director’s Award for Superior Performance as a Civil Assistant US Attorney. Josh frequently lectured internally for the Department of Justice regarding the False Claims Act, the Controlled Substances Act, and parallel proceedings.
In 2018, at the age of 33, Josh was promoted to serve as the Eastern District’s Civil Chief. In that position, Josh supervised all civil litigation across the Eastern District’s six divisions: Sherman, Texarkana, Marshall, Tyler, Lufkin, and Beaumont. In addition to managing the Eastern District’s affirmative False Claims Act and civil Controlled Substances Act dockets, Josh supervised the district’s Financial Litigation Unit as well as defensive litigation against the United States, its agencies, and its personnel.
Josh’s highest priority as Civil Chief became fighting the nation’s devastating opioid crisis. He served as the co-chair of a national Prescription Interdiction and Litigation (PIL) Task Force working group.
In November 2019, Josh rejoined Reese Marketos as a partner, where he leads the firm’s Eastern District office and the firm’s False Claims Act practice.