Letter: Shutting down government solves nothing

This is solely my personal opinion and not the opinion of the U.S. Attorney's Office or the U.S. Department of Justice. I wish I were working for you today.

Normally I am an assistant U.S. attorney in the Civil Fraud Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office; and within the last 12 months I have been the lead lawyer for the United States in three cases that recovered more than $55 million, cases that involved healthcare fraud against the government and environmental damage to the National Forests. But now I am furloughed by the government shutdown so I sit at home, legally barred from working for you.

One of the cases recovered $15 million from a drug company that allegedly paid kickbacks to influence doctors to prescribe its new drug to Medicare, Veterans Affairs, and TRICARE patients. A second case recovered $13 million from a mobile lab and X-ray company that allegedly paid kickbacks to nursing homes to get access to Medicare patients. The third case recovered $27 million from an industrial construction company that negligently burned down 28 square miles of the Angeles National Forest.

Money recovered in these cases went back to the federal agencies that had been victimized. These cases may prevent other companies from committing similar frauds or damaging the environment.

These recoveries were a team effort. Our section's annual recoveries are many times our collective salaries. Yet now, 13 of our 14 attorneys, and all 12 of our excellent staff of investigators, auditors, legal assistants and paralegals, have been furloughed by the shutdown.

Only one attorney remains to keep the lights on.

I respect the congressional legislative process, but shutting down the government is not the way to resolve disputes. It solves nothing and just keeps my fellow employees and me from working for you.

Abraham Meltzer

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