Federal Government Program Fraud
Understanding Government Program Fraud Laws And Defenses
Federal program fraud refers to the misappropriation of funds from a program receiving federal funding. This type of fraud is vigorously prosecuted by the government, with severe penalties for conviction. Essentially, federal program fraud involves stealing from a federally funded program.
Among the primary federal statutes utilized by prosecutors to charge individuals with theft or embezzlement of over $5,000 from a government-controlled federally funded program is 18 U.S.C. 666. However, prosecutors can also employ other federal statutes to charge individuals with program fraud. These statutes encompass conspiracy to defraud the government, making false statements to a federal agency, false claims, wire fraud, and mail fraud.
The U.S. government takes fraud very seriously. If you find yourself accused of such a crime, it’s natural to feel anxious and afraid. Regardless of the allegations and evidence, it’s important to remember that you possess legal rights and are entitled to due process protections under the law. If you’re facing these charges, contact Sosinsky Law at (212) 285-2270 for a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.
What Is Government Program Fraud?
Federal program fraud refers to the act of theft or deception involving federally funded programs. The primary objective is typically to obtain financial benefits from the government or manipulate agencies into taking specific actions through fraudulent means.
Like any other form of fraud, this federal offense necessitates the intent to defraud. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant acted with a deliberate intention and knowledge to deceive an entity in order to receive undeserved financial gains.
Federally funded programs encompass entities that have received grants, entitlements, loans, or other forms of funding. While there are administrative processes in place to safeguard these programs, they do not always effectively detect or prevent fraudulent activities.
It is common for federal program fraud to result in significant financial losses, prompting the government to pursue both criminal and civil actions against those believed to be responsible for the fraud.
Unique Aspects Of Government Program Fraud Cases
Government program fraud cases present unique challenges due to their document-intensive nature and the technical issues surrounding the violation of federal program statutes. These cases can be particularly difficult because they require distilling a vast amount of information into a format understandable for a jury or judge, ensuring our defense theory is effectively communicated without being overwhelmed by paperwork or electronic data.
When handling such cases, our federal government program fraud lawyer prioritizes examining the produced documents, including dates, investigative summaries, transcripts of phone calls, and any wiretapping evidence. Additionally, if the individual has previously been interviewed by the FBI, the attorney obtains a transcript of that interview.
Theft Or Bribery Of Programs Receiving Federal Funds – 18 U.S.C. § 666
The government’s definition of program fraud is explicitly outlined in 18 U.S.C. § 666. This statute specifically deals with the investigation and prosecution of such criminal activities. A person found guilty of fraud can be categorized as follows:
- “Embezzles, steals, obtains using fraud, or without authority knowingly converts to the use of anyone other than the rightful owner or intentionally misapplies, property, or;”
- “Corruptly solicits or demands for someone’s benefit, or accepts, agrees to accept, something of value from anyone, with intent to be influenced or rewarded connected with any business, transaction of such organization, government, or agency involving anything of value.”
In essence, this statute provides federal law enforcement agencies and prosecutors with a powerful tool to pursue individuals involved in stealing or embezzling from the government or entities supported by federal funding. The only limitations of this law are that the fraudulent activity must involve at least $5,000 in value, and the government program in question must have received a minimum of $10,000 in federal funds within the specified year.
Apart from these conditions, the statute encompasses a wide range of deceptive practices. It is vital to understand that program fraud is not limited to a single type of offense but encompasses numerous methods of defrauding the government.
Examples Of Federal Program Fraud
A federal program fraud offense can occur in a variety of forms, including the following below:
- Bid Rigging: This type of fraud involves avoiding or eliminating fair competition in a government contract bid to artificially drive up the price of the contract.
- Defense Contractor Fraud: Defense contractor fraud can include over-charging the government for products or services or utilizing inferior materials as part of a manufacturing process.
- Grant/Research Fraud: Grant/research fraud might involve falsifying grant application materials, misappropriating grant funds, or even submitting fabricated test results.
- Medicare Fraud: Charging the government for non-existent patients or obtaining health care using a forged Medicare card are both examples of this type of fraud.
Engaging in activities such as falsifying signatures on social security checks, misappropriating student loan funds, or fraudulently claiming welfare benefits for non-existent children all constitute various forms of government program fraud.
Common Federal Statutes Used For Prosecution
Several federal agencies have the authority to investigate program fraud, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Inspector General Offices of various programs. While these agencies primarily prosecute fraud violations under 18 U.S. Code § 666, they may also utilize other statutes as necessary.
- 18 U.S.C. 287 – making false, fictitious claims to the United States
- 18 U.S.C. 371 – conspiracy to defraud the United States
- 18 U.S.C. 1001 – false documents or false statements to a federal agency
- 18 U.S.C. 1341 – committing mail fraud
- 18 U.S.C. 1343 – committing wire fraud
- 31 U.S.C. § 3279 – Federal Civil False Claims Act
Engaging in these offenses can result in severe consequences, including a potential prison sentence of up to ten years, coupled with substantial fines. Furthermore, a conviction may render you ineligible for future government business engagements. For instance, if you are a healthcare professional, you could face restrictions on accepting clients who rely on Medicare and Medicaid.
Government Program Fraud Defenses
If you have been accused of government program fraud, don’t lose hope. There are numerous effective defense strategies available for such cases. For instance, in contract fraud cases, the government must prove that you had contact with a specific government agency and either provided false information about the services you could offer, billed for services not rendered or failed to provide any services at all.
Successfully establishing this requires demonstrating beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed these actions knowingly. However, this is not always an easy task. It’s important to note that there is no one-size-fits-all strategy that guarantees success in every case. We encourage you to reach out to Sosinsky Law for an initial consultation with our federal government fraud program lawyer where we can thoroughly review the details of your situation and explore all available legal options.
The defense strategy for your case will depend on various factors, such as the specific offense the government has charged you with and its particulars. Only a knowledgeable federal government fraud program attorney specializing in these types of fraud cases can develop the appropriate approach tailored to your situation.
It is important to note that if you are summoned for an interview by the government, you will not be aware of the evidence they have against you. They could be seeking documents and information to bolster their case.
Remember, it is generally advisable to exercise your First Amendment right to remain silent. Instead of handling the issue personally, it is prudent to seek legal representation who can advocate on your behalf and safeguard your rights. Given the potential severe penalties associated with a conviction, it is crucial to act swiftly to maximize your chances of achieving the most favorable outcome.
Contact Our Federal Government Program Fraud Lawyer Now
There is no reason that anyone should ever speak to a law enforcement officer in a fraud investigation without first consulting with a DC federal government program fraud lawyer. A lawyer who does this type of work from a defense side must have passion for it. It is exceptionally rewarding work and you deserve an attorney who feels strongly about doing that work. If you have been charged with government program fraud, speak with a qualified federal government fraud lawyer at Sosinksy Law now who will work tirelessly to build your defense.