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, civil rights or environmental laws. The following are examples of prosecutions under the ACE program:
- 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;
- 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;
- Companies and individuals to recover the government’s costs to clean up polluted land and water; and/or
- Hotel owners who persist in a pattern or practice of discrimination against persons with disabilities by failing to comply with provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Many of these cases result from qui tam or whistleblower lawsuits 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 for each violation. 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.
ACE cases can present facts and issues that warrant criminal as well as civil prosecution. Nationally, ACE programs have recovered billions of dollars for the United States.
To report fraud and abuse against the Federal government, please contact us:
U.S. Attorney’s Office District of Rhode Island
50 Kennedy Plaza, Eighth Floor
Providence, RI 02903