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:
- Health care providers who defraud Federal health programs—including Medicare, Medicaid, and TRICARE—by billing for goods and services that were not rendered, not medically necessary, or substandard;
- Contractors who provide defective goods or worthless services to Federal agencies or who charge the government for goods and services not delivered;
- 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; and
- Companies and individuals who are liable for the government’s costs to clean up polluted land and water.
Many 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 allows for recovery of triple the amount of damages incurred by the United States, plus statutory civil penalties for each violation.
The False Claims Act also authorizes qui tam or whistleblower lawsuits on behalf of the Federal government. In qui tam actions, individuals or entities with inside information about fraudulent conduct file suit on behalf of the United States. These lawsuits are referred to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and 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.
ACE cases can present facts and issues that warrant criminal as well as civil prosecution. In those instances, the U.S. Attorney’s Office will coordinate with law enforcement agents and will use Federal criminal and civil laws to obtain the most effective resolution consistent with the objectives of full restitution, deterrence, and punishment.
Nationally, ACE programs have recovered billions of dollars for the United States.
To report fraud and abuse against the Federal government, please contact us:
Chase E. Zachary
Assistant United States Attorney
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Middle District of Louisiana
777 Florida Street, Suite 208
Baton Rouge, LA 70801