Mylan, U.S. finalize $465 million EpiPen settlement

By Nate Raymond BOSTON (Reuters) - Mylan NV has finalized a $465 million settlement resolving U.S. Justice Department claims it overcharged the government for its EpiPen emergency allergy treatment, which became the center of a firestorm over price increases. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Massachusetts on Thursday announced the accord, which was soon after criticized by some congressional members as being too easy on the drugmaker. It came 10 months after Mylan said it had reached a deal. The settlement resolved claims that Mylan avoided higher rebates to state Medicaid programs by misclassifying EpiPen as a generic product, even though it was marketed and priced as a brand-name product. "Taxpayers rightly expect companies like Mylan that receive payments from taxpayer-funded programs to scrupulously follow the rules," Acting U.S. Attorney William Weinreb said in a statement. Under the deal, Mylan did not admit wrongdoing. It will reclassify EpiPen and pay the rebate applicable to its new classification as of April 1, 2017. "Bringing closure to this matter is the right course of action for Mylan and our stakeholders to allow us to move forward," Mylan Chief Executive Heather Bresch said in a statement. The deal followed a False Claims Act whistleblower lawsuit filed by French rival Sanofi SA in 2016, two years after it first raised the matter with authorities, Weinreb's office said. Sanofi, which formerly marketed a rival product called Auvi-Q, will receive nearly $38.8 million as a reward from the government. Sanofi in a statement called pursuing the matter "the right thing to do." It has a separate antitrust lawsuit pending alleging Mylan engaged in illegal conduct to squelch competition to EpiPen. Mylan shares rose 2.10 percent to $31.11 on the Nasdaq. The EpiPen, which Mylan acquired in 2007, is a handheld device that treats life-threatening allergic reactions by automatically injecting a dose of epinephrine. Mylan came under fire Continue Reading

Lance Armstrong called ‘doper, dealer, and liar’ by U.S. gov’t in court papers demanding return of $40M

The famous U.S. Postal Service declaration says its couriers won’t be stopped by “snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night.” Now you can add Lance Armstrong to that list. Late Monday night, the Justice Department filed hundreds of pages of court documents as part of its demand that the disgraced cyclist return taxpayer sponsorship money he took from the USPS under a contractual agreement (and amid hundreds of public promises by Armstrong) that he would never use banned drugs and blood transfusions. “The U.S. Postal Service paid more than $40 million to associate its brand with Lance Armstrong: American hero. Instead, it unwittingly tied its brand to Lance Armstrong: doper, dealer, and liar,” the government’s lawyers wrote. “The latter, naturally, held no value to the USPS.” The six-year-old case could potentially go to trial within the coming year at the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C., the same courthouse where Armstrong’s fellow Texan Roger Clemens faced a painful, hard-fought trial in 2012, and was acquitted. Armstrong’s attorneys also filed papers last night. They say the Justice Department’s attempt to claw back its money under the False Claims Act is “procedurally improper.” Armstrong’s attorneys say that other than noting that Armstrong rode for the USPS team, the government has failed to submit evidence or Armstrong’s conduct with regard to the sponsorship agreement. They note the government’s case centers on 42 invoices from Tailwind - the company behind Armstrong’s teams - to the USPS between 2000 and 2004. “With his opposition, Armstrong has supplied testimony from the government’s own witnesses establishing that he had nothing to do with the submission of Tailwind’s invoices to the Postal Service and no role at all in the payment of those invoices,” write Armstrong’s Continue Reading

Under U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, sports policed themselves

As United States Attorney General, Eric Holder scored plenty of hits, runs and errors, but when it came to policing the sports world, he rarely took the field. Holder, who announced his resignation Thursday, led the Justice Department through a five-year period in which athletes, owners and leagues constantly made legal news, while Holder seemed content to let the multibillion-dollar sports industry try to regulate itself, with mixed results. The most glaring example of Holder’s inaction was the free pass given to cyclist Lance Armstrong, who dodged federal charges despite overwhelming evidence that he led a long-running doping conspiracy based on ruthless intimidation tactics and the abuse of controlled substances and taxpayer money. In 2012 Holder’s DOJ suddenly abandoned a ripe grand jury investigation into Armstrong’s cycling teams, whose chief sponsor was the U.S. Postal Service. On the other hand, lawyers from another division of the DOJ soon went after Armstrong’s wallet, joining whistleblower Floyd Landis in 2013 to pursue a False Claims Act civil action. The case is ongoing, and the DOJ seeks up to $90 million in taxpayer dollars from Armstrong and his cronies. Holder became the nation’s top law enforcement official in early 2009, when the nation was reeling from the subprime mortgage financial crisis and top Justice Department priorities included terrorism and the war on drugs. But Holder inherited federal criminal cases against Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, who had each jeopardized their freedom by going under oath with denials of steroid and human growth hormone use. Bonds would be convicted of obstructing justice, while a Washington jury acquitted Clemens on six felony charges related to his 2008 testimony before Congress. Holder formally recused himself from the Clemens case due to a conflict of interest. Before becoming attorney general, Holder had worked at the Covington & Burling law firm, where his Continue Reading

U.S. grand jury probing spy agency contractor that vetted NSA leaker Edward Snowden: report

The company that conducted the most recent security review of former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden is the subject of a federal grand jury investigation into its background check processes, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, citing people involved with the probe. Federal prosecutors and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are investigating whether USIS, a U.S. government contractor, rushed its cases without doing a proper review, which would be a violation of the False Claims Act, the Journal said. The grand jury has issued subpoenas to former USIS officials in recent days, the paper reported. US Investigations Services, LLC did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Snowden, who as a U.S. National Security Agency contractor had undergone a USIS security review in 2011, is facing U.S. espionage charges after disclosing details of secret U.S. surveillance programs. After fleeing the country and spending weeks holed up in the transit area of a Moscow airport, he was granted asylum in Russia this week. USIS has been under investigation by the inspector general for the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. While that probe predates the Snowden scandal, concerns have been raised about whether the company's background check into Snowden was carried out in an appropriate manner. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Feds: Background check firm that vetted Edward Snowden screwed U.S. out of millions

The U.S. Justice Department accused United States Investigations Services (USIS), the largest private provider of security checks for the government, of bilking millions of dollars through improper background verifications. USIS, which also vetted Edward Snowden before he leaked documents about U.S. spying efforts, has a contract with the U.S. government since 1996 to vet individuals seeking employment with federal agencies. Such background checks include investigative fieldwork on each application. The Department of Justice (DOJ) said in a court filing on Wednesday that between March 2008 and September 2012, USIS filed at least 665,000 flawed background checks, which was about 40 percent of the total submissions. A former employee of USIS filed a whistleblower lawsuit in July 2011 under the False Claims Act, which lets people collect rewards for blowing the whistle on fraud against the government. The lawsuit alleged that USIS failed to perform quality control reviews in connection with its background investigations. In its filing, the DOJ said USIS submitted background investigations that were not reviewed as per agreed standards. DOJ said USIS received millions of dollars that it otherwise would not have received had the government been aware that the background investigations had not gone through the quality review process required by the contract. "USIS management devised and executed a scheme to deliberately circumvent contractually required quality reviews of completed background investigations in order to increase the company's revenues and profits," DOJ said in its filing. The payments to the firm ranged from $95 to $2,500, depending on the type of background investigation. The lawsuit requested for a jury trial and seeks to recover treble damages and penalties. Through a software known as "Blue Zone," USIS was able to quickly make an electronic "Review Complete" notation without fully going through the Continue Reading

U.S. Department of Justice going after Lance Armstrong as government joins Floyd Landis’ whistleblower lawsuit against disgraced cyclist

Lance Armstrong and his closest associates shielded each other against performance-enhancing drug allegations for more than a decade, but the Justice Department's decision to join Floyd Landis' whistleblower suit might tear down their once-impenetrable wall of silence - and convince the disgraced cyclist and his friends to turn on each other. The DOJ announced on Friday that the government has joined the "qui tam" suit filed by Landis in 2010 against Armstrong, Tailwind Sports, the firm that managed Armstrong's United States Postal Service team, and former team manager Johan Bruyneel. The feds say Armstrong and his associates violated the terms of their agreement with the Postal Service by using banned drugs. "Lance Armstrong and his cycling team took more than $30 million from the U.S. Postal Service based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules - including the rules against doping," District of Columbia U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. said.  "The Postal Service has now seen its sponsorship unfairly associated with what has been described as 'the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.'   This lawsuit is designed to help the Postal Service recoup the tens of millions of dollars it paid out to the Tailwind cycling team based on years of broken promises." But the Justice Department's announcement did not mention Thomas Weisel, the San Francisco financier who founded Armstrong's cycling team, Bill Stapleton, Armstrong's longtime agent, or Bart Knaggs, the cyclist's business partner. All three men are named as defendants in the Landis lawsuit. Mike Morse, the chairman of the whistleblower practice group at the Philadelphia law firm Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bostick and Raspanti, said that doesn't mean they are off the hook. "There are certainly cases where a condition of the settlement will be cooperation with the government's case against remaining Continue Reading

Report: A second U.S. Attorney in California to probe Lance Armstrong, this time for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation

Lance Armstrong just found out that it doesn't pay to be a bully. Despite comments Tuesday by the U.S. Attorney in Southern California saying he would not renew the investigation into Armstrong that he dropped last year, another arm of the government is again investigating Armstrong, this time for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation, according to ABC News. "Birotte does not speak for the federal government as a whole," ABC quoted a high level source as saying of Andre Birotte, the U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California. "Agents are actively investigating Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation." That news came on the heels of an announcement by Andre Birotte, the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles who shut down the two-year investigation into Armstrong last year, who said he had no regrets even though Armstrong has now acknowledged using banned substances. According to sources familiar with the Armstrong case, agents investigating the seven-time Tour de France winner who was stripped of his titles and banned for life from the sport by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, were outraged that Birotte dropped the case, reportedly because of political pressure and without discussing it investigators who were reportedly recommending an indictment. Meanwhile, the Bay Area banker who founded and bankrolled Armstrong's teams has told the Justice Department that he wasn't unaware that the disgraced cyclist used performance-enhancing drugs and was victimized by the cyclist. Thomas Weisel, who bankrolled Tailwind Sports, the holding company for Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service cycling teams, claimed in a recent letter to federal authorities that he is a victim of Armstrong, sources familiar with the letter told the Daily News. The letter echoes statements Weisel made last month before Armstrong confessed to doping during his televised interview with Oprah Winfrey. "I did not know until very recently that Lance Armstrong had Continue Reading

Montgomery company is building prototypes for President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall

A Montgomery company is building two of the eight prototypes for President Donald Trump’s U.S.-Mexico border wall.Caddell Construction landed two contracts to build test sections of the wall up to 30 feet high and 30 feet long, one made out of reinforced concrete and one made out of see-through material. There’ll be eight prototypes in all, costing a total of $3.6 million.Caddell is one of only two companies building both a concrete and a see-through design.The prototypes are expected to be built over the next few weeks along the San Diego border. After that, they’ll be evaluated for up to 60 days.What happens next is a question mark. Money was set aside for the prototype process, but the wall itself is a different story. Mexico has vowed not to pay for the wall, and Trump faces an uphill battle to get Congress to fund it.Montgomery’s Caddell declined to comment for this story. It normally does not comment on federal contracts. More: Montgomery builder has a worldwide reach John Caddell started the company as a home business in 1983. It’s since become one of the most prominent designers and builders of U.S. embassies and other federal facilities around the world. Their projects for the State Department alone have topped $3 billion since 2000.Caddell-built U.S. facilities now stretch from Moscow, to Sri Lanka, to Afghanistan. In 2015, they were among the top 100 federal contractors, landing more than $490 million in government projects that year.“We have done projects in 25 different countries. That's a pretty impressive thing,” Vice President of International Operations Rod Caesar told the Montgomery Advertiser in 2016. “We're certainly not the largest U.S. international contractor, but that's a pretty impressive number when you think about the origins of Caddell Construction in Montgomery.”Last month, the company announced the opening of a new office in Bentonville, Arkansas.In 2013, Caddell Continue Reading

Is Astorino’s Chappaqua housing claim true?

In the year-end crush to meet benchmarks in its federal fair-housing settlement, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has claimed that a controversial affordable housing proposal in the hometown of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo had earned a building permit for its 28 units.But Tax Watch has found that no such building permit exists for the Chappaqua Station project, which is involved in a U.S. Justice Department contempt-of-court complaint pending in U.S. District Court.At stake is Westchester's Dec. 31, 2015, deadline to have building permits in place for the Chappaqua project under housing monitor James Johnson's proposed sanctions. If the county missed it, the violation could lead to sanctions of $30,000 for taxpayers to absorb. New Castle Town Attorney Edward Phillips said Conifer Realty, of Rochester, has several more hurdles to clear before it could obtain a building permit to construct the apartments.“There are a number of additional permits and approvals that Conifer must still provide before a building permit for construction could be issued,” he said.Westchester maintains that a permit issued Dec. 28 to allow site remediation and grading at 54 Hunt's Lane qualifies as a "building permit" for the apartment complex, which Astorino trumpeted in a Dec. 30 news release .But Craig Gurian, executive director of the Anti-Discrimination Center, which brought the fair-housing case in 2006, said a permit for grading a site was not what negotiators intended during talks for the consent decree.A building permit actually allows you to build something.“This is silly,” he said. “It doesn’t pass the laugh test.”Standing in the way of a permit to build the affordable housing complex is the New Castle Town Board, which ordered a new round of reviews on Dec. 8. A public hearing on the reviews is set for Tuesday.Phillips Continue Reading

President Bush saved U.S. lives? That’s only more Karl Rove-style spin

George Bush, still President, is engaging in a legacy tour of media outlets. This comes despite his earlier having said he did not know how history would judge the Iraq war "because we'll all be dead." Actually, many people are already dead because of Bush, and that is the point to keep in mind when he talks about his legacy. Among the themes Bush is striking are that through action at home and fighting "them" over there, not over here, his administration stopped terrorist attacks and prevented another 9/11. There is a surface plausibility to those claims, as there has often been with the messaging served up by the Karl Rove spin machine. But let's look beneath the surface of the assertions. Bush stopped terrorist attacks? Yes, some of the many alleged plots cited by the White House probably would have matured into attacks had not the U.S. intelligence community acted. Many were more aspirational than operational, and others were the pure inventions of FBI informants. (In the Miami Liberty City case, an FBI informant apparently bribed people who previously had no interest in Al Qaeda. When they swore the oath to Osama Bin Laden, they were then arrested for doing so.) But even if taken on its face as true, should having stopped terrorist attacks earn this President a Harry Truman-like reassessment down the road? I can attest from firsthand knowledge that the Clinton administration stopped numerous terrorist operations that would have resulted in American deaths. Yet I don't hear Bill Clinton running around boasting about that. Clinton has other things to lay claim to - a balanced budget, huge job growth and eight years without a major war. If you don't think the Clinton administration stopped a major terrorist attack in New York City, you might want to talk with the blind sheik, who was involved in a plot to blow up the United Nations, the Lincoln and Holland tunnels, the George Washington Bridge and a federal building housing the FBI. But that would be Continue Reading