Beasley Allen Principal Larry Golston recently visited the Beasley Allen Report. A lawyer in the Firm’s Fraud section, Golston worked on an important whistleblower case involving national security. On this episode of the weekly program hosted by Beasley Allen lawyer Gibson Vance, he discusses this important case and explains how the False Claims Act allows ordinary citizens to file a claim on behalf of the U.S. Government when they witness fraud, waste, abuse or other wrongdoing. Whistleblowers may be rewarded with a percentage of any money recovered as a result of their report.
In December, the U.S. Justice Department (DOJ) settled a case filed by a government contractor who uncovered fraud while investigating matters of national security. Blake Percival was a manager at U.S. Investigation Services (USIS), which performed background checks for federal job applicants. The company was responsible for background checks on Edward Snowden and Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter.
Mr. Percival filed a whistleblower lawsuit in 2011 alleging USIS was not properly vetting the people it was screening for security clearances, defrauding the U.S. government by billing it for work it had not actually performed. It is estimated the fraud affected more than 650,000 background checks. In addition to false billing, by not performing its duties, USIS was putting national security at serious risk.
Golston represented Mr. Percival through a four-year battle to obtain justice. “Blake Percival is one of the most important whistleblowers in recent history,” Golston says. “We as a country are safer because of what he did.”
Mr. Percival faced many hardships as a result of coming forward and blowing the whistle to expose wrongdoing. He lost his job, and his credibility was called into question. Although there are whistleblower protections provided under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, it is often a long road until a case is resolved. Whistleblowers must have tremendous courage and stamina to stay the course and see that justice is done.
Mr. Percival filed his case in 2011, and the DOJ joined the lawsuit against USIS in 2013. But in spring of 2014, Altegrity, the parent company of USIS, filed for bankruptcy. This would make it more difficult to recover what the company owed it, and the DOJ considered dropping out of the lawsuit.
However, recognizing the importance of the case, Golston, together with Dee Miles, head of the Firm’s Consumer Fraud Section, fought to continue the litigation, and the Justice Department agreed to remain a part of the case. Ultimately USIS agreed to forego at least $30 million in payments legitimately owed to the company to settle the government’s allegations.
Under the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, the whistleblower is entitled to receive up to 30 percent of any money the government recovers. This is both an incentive and a reward for the tremendous sacrifices – both personal and professional – whistleblowers often make by reporting the truth.
“Mr. Percival put his future, his family’s future, years of hard work on the line in order to tell the truth,” Golston said. “And as a result, the nation is safer. The importance of his actions cannot be understated.”
The Beasley Allen Report airs each Sunday night on WSFA-TV12 following the 10 p.m. news. The program features special guest attorneys and community leaders to discuss important legal matters, politics. consumer safety and other topics. For those outside the viewing area, episodes can be viewed on the Beasley Allen YouTube channel at www.YouTube.com/BeasleyAllen.