US Law – Weill Medical College of Cornell University To Pay $2.6 Million To Settle Federal Fraud Suit

LAWFUEL.COM – US Legal Announcements Daily –
LEV L. DASSIN, the Acting United States Attorney for
the Southern District of New York, announced today that the Weill
Medical College of Cornell University (“Weill Medical College”)
has agreed to pay $2,606,751 to resolve civil charges that Weill
Medical College defrauded the Government in connection with
federal research funds awarded under grants made by the National
Institutes of Health (“NIH”), a component of the United States
Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”), and the
Department of Defense (“DOD”). The allegations of fraud were
first brought to the attention of the Government by a
whistleblower, who filed a qui tam Complaint under the False
Claims Act.

The Government and Weill Medical College entered into
the settlement in September of 2007. However, the whistleblower
challenged the settlement in the fall of 2007. United States
District Judge WILLIAM H. PAULEY III denied the whistleblower’s
challenge and approved the settlement yesterday. According to
the Complaint filed in this case by the United States in
Manhattan federal court:

Weill Medical College defrauded the Government and made
false statements to the NIH and the DOD in connection with Weill
Medical College’s federal grant applications. In particular, the
principal research investigator for the grants for which Weill
Medical College sought funding failed to disclose to the
Government the full extent of her various active research
projects. These omissions deprived the Government of its ability
to assess the researcher’s ability to perform the projects in the
grant applications. Under federal guidelines and regulations,
researchers have a duty to disclose their active projects and the
amount of research time they plan to devote to each project.
These rules ensure that Government funds will not be awarded to a
researcher who does not have adequate time to perform the project
work. Weill Medical College knew, or should have known, that its
employee failed to fully disclose her active research projects in
the grant applications submitted to the Government such that her
research commitments exceeded 100% of her available time.
Weill Medical College, without admitting any liability
or wrongdoing, agreed to pay the Government $2,606,751 to settle
the charges.

Mr. DASSIN praised the investigative work of the HHS
Inspector General’s Office of Investigations and the DOD
Inspector General’s Defense Criminal Investigative Service.
Assistant United States Attorneys SEAN C. CENAWOOD and
HEATHER K. McSHAIN are in charge of the case.
09-051 ###