Feeling Used?

Nobody likes that feeling when somebody has used you to get something. It’s bad enough when it’s a significant other, a supposed friend, or a colleague, but imagine if it’s your own government who you helped.

That is the case facing George Karadsheh, a whistleblower who helped the U.S. reveal one of the most disgusting, egregious cases of health-care fraud imaginable. Karadsheh blew the whistle on Dr. Farid Fata, who subjected healthy people to chemotherapy, got kickbacks, and defrauded Medicare.

The national news flocked to cover the story and Fata is now spending 45 years in prison. But Karadsheh believes he’s not getting the credit he deserves for exposing the fraud: a full share of the recovery he’s owed after Crittenton Hospital, where Fata worked, made two self-disclosures to the government, leading to nearly $4 million in payment.

Now Karadsheh is suing the government to recover what he believes he’s owed, revealing a reality for many whistleblowers: They feel they get jipped by the government. I wrote about this problem in Medicare Whistleblower Case Shows U.S. Stiffs Some Sources.

The lawyers I talked with said most whistleblowers are unhappy with the government’s initial offer, but a lawyer can push that up a little bit. Going to trial is rare.

I understand fiscal responsibility, but why should the U.S. give these people the short-end of the stick when the False Claims Act specifically authorizes rewards in these cases? Whistleblowers stick their necks out, often lose their jobs, and then have trouble finding work. Some have to change careers!

And while they struggle with those realities, whistleblowers have mouths to feed, and mortgages and other bills to pay. The world doesn’t just stop because they called out wrongdoing.

One lawyer said relationships matter and that a U.S. attorney’s office that wants more whistleblowers to come forward will work to ensure they get a fair share of settlements and judgments they help obtain. That’s good to hear, because if we want to stop the Farid Fatas of the world, then we need to let those whistleblowers know, and show them, they’re valued.

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