Sunday, November 28, 2004

Blowing the whistle on fraud against government yields big rewards: "Crime may not pay, but blowing the whistle on companies that swindle the government sure can.

"Jim Alderson got $20 million in one settlement and split $100 million with another whistleblower in a related case, both involving Medicare fraud by the nation's largest for-profit hospital chain and a company it acquired.

"Once facing a wrecked career and no pension, Alderson, 58, now owns houses in Plano, Texas, and Whitefish, Mont., drives a new Thunderbird and has established a charitable foundation with the money he received. While his pastures became greener after long legal battles, blowing the whistle was no easy ride into the sunset.

"'You risk everything when you do it,' he said.

"Alderson is among the beneficiaries of a law passed nearly two decades ago that encourages whistleblowers to come forward by promising them up to a quarter of the money recovered by the government.

"Since its inception, the False Claims Act has generated $12 billion for the federal treasury and more than $1 billion for hundreds of whistleblowers."

"Established during President Lincoln's time, the law was later gutted. But it was strengthened in 1986 to help identify contractors guilty of defrauding the government."

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