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Affirmative Civil Enforcement

Affirmative Civil Enforcement ("ACE") refers to filing civil lawsuits on behalf of the United States. The purpose of these civil actions is to recover government money lost to fraud or other misconduct or to impose penalties for violations of Federal health, safety, or environmental laws. The following are examples of prosecutions under the ACE program:

  • contractors who provide defective goods or worthless services to Federal agencies or who charge the government for goods and services not delivered;
  • health care providers who defraud Federal health programs like Medicare and Medicaid by overbilling for goods and services or billing for goods and services that were not rendered, not medically necessary, or substandard;
  • individuals who defraud Federal agencies such as the Small Business Administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Education and other Federal agencies by using misrepresentations to obtain grants, loans and other benefits to which they are not entitled;
  • companies and individuals to recover the government's costs to clean up polluted land and water.

Usually ACE cases are pursued under the Federal False Claims Act, which affords the United States with a cause of action for false or fraudulent claims made against the government, or for false statements made to the government. The False Claims Act provides for recovery of triple the amount of damages incurred by the United States, plus a penalty that is adjusted annually for inflation.  The penalty amount for False Claims Act violations occurring after November 15, 2015 currently ranges between a minimum of $13,508 and a maximum of $27,018.

Many of these cases result from qui tam or whistleblower lawsuits under the False Claims Act. In qui tam actions, individuals or entities with inside information about fraudulent conduct file suit on behalf of the United States. The ACE program then undertakes an investigation of the allegations. Whistleblowers, called relators under the False Claims Act, can receive a percentage of the government's recovery.

The Office's civil Assistant United States Attorneys support the ACE program, and several AUSAs are devoted full-time to ACE prosecutions, including an ACE Coordinator and a Health Care Fraud Coordinator. The Civil Division paralegal specialists, including one dedicated full-time to the ACE program; a CPA/CFE auditor; and an investigator also advance ACE investigations, litigation and resolutions. Investigations are undertaken with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Offices of the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Defense, as well as other federal agencies.

ACE cases can present facts and issues that warrant criminal as well as civil prosecution. In those instances, two or more Assistant United States Attorneys coordinate the investigation with law enforcement agents, using Federal criminal and civil laws to obtain the most effective resolution consistent with the objectives of punishment, deterrence and full restitution.

Nationally, ACE programs have recovered billions of dollars for the United States. In the District of Maryland, the ACE program has recovered millions of dollars by resolving, for example, cases against:

  • a pharmaceutical company for paying kickbacks and for off-label marketing (multi-district);
  • contractors for billing the government for labor and other costs that were not expended on government contracts;
  • physicians and hospitals for upcoding and billing for medically unnecessary services;
  • a major medical research institution for misusing federal grants;
  • distributors and pharmacies for violating the Controlled Substances Act, including failing to report suspicious orders and dispensing controlled substances for other than a legitimate medical purpose;
  • a medical device company that promoted its product for off-label uses;
  • A medical device company that misrepresented to the FDA that its product had not caused any serious adverse events or death.

 To report fraud and abuse against the federal government, please contact us: 
ACE Coordinator 
U.S. Attorney's Office District of Maryland 
36 South Charles Street, Fourth Floor
Baltimore, Maryland 21201 

For examples of recent Affirmative Civil Enforcement ("ACE") prosecutions in Maryland, click on these links:


Western Maryland Physician and Pain Management Practice Group Agree to Pay $980,000 to Settle Federal False Claims Act Allegations of Billing for Medically Unnecessary Urine Drug Tests


Information Technology Contractor Agrees to Pay More Than $1.3 Million to Settle Federal False Claims Act Allegations of Overbilling

Howard County Physician Pays More Than $660,000 to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations of Fraudulent Billing

Federal Information Technology Contractor Agrees to Pay More Than $6 Million to Settle Federal False Claims Act Allegations of Overbilling


The Scripps Research Institute to Pay $10 Million to Settle False Claims Act Allegations Related to Mischarging NIH-Sponsored Research Grants

Defense Contractor to Pay Nearly $1 Million to the United States to Resolve Allegation of Overbilling on NSA Contract

Maryland Cardiologist and Related Medical Practices to Pay the United States $750,000 for Alleged Kickbacks

Baltimore Doctor to Pay $436,000 to the United States to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations Relating to Medically Unnecessary Procedures


Updated February 27, 2023