Social Security Judge Nets 6 Months in Federal Prison for Role in Fraud Scheme

A former top regional Social Security judge was sentenced Monday to six months in federal prison for his role in trying to silence a whistleblower who helped expose the largest disability fraud scam in U.S. history.

Charlie Paul Andrus, who was chief administrative law judge in the Social Security office in Huntington, West Virginia, was never charged with a role in the scam itself but did admit to lashing out at the whistleblower who was helping investigators consider the $550 million fraud ring.

Andrus told the court he was embarrassed that one of his subordinate administrative law judges had been implicated, so he worked with orchestrators of the scam to try to discredit Sarah Carver, the whistleblower.

“I was profoundly wrong,” he told the judge before sentencing.

Andrus was attempting to cover up a scam by Eric C. Conn, one of the country’s most successful disability lawyers, who filed more than 1,700 bogus applications with Social Security, using a stable of doctors to write fake medical evaluations then having David B. Daugherty, an administrative law judge in the Huntington office, rubber-stamp approvals for them.

Authorities say the scam was worth $550 million in bogus lifetime benefit payments.

Conn and Daugherty have also pleaded guilty while one of the psychologists in the scam, Alfred Bradley Adkins, was found guilty in a trial earlier this year. Daugherty and Adkins are awaiting sentencing while Conn jumped bail in June and is on the run. He was sentenced in absentia last month. it might be interesting for you to know more at http://lenderliabilitylawyer.com.

Prosecutors went after Andrus for retaliating against the whistleblower, saying he gave Conn inside information on her whereabouts and helped Conn an associate of his put a tail her, hoping to spot her engaged in telework attendance fraud. The man bird-dogged Ms. Carver, even falsifying a video to make it appears she was breaking agency work rules.

Andrus, in a July letter to the court, said he had wanted vengeance on Ms. Carver.

“It appeared to me that my victim, and the employee who had been disciplined in the past for submitting false time entries and making false statements, was in charge and calling the shots. Any grievance she raised seemed to provoke an action from higher management to accommodate her,” the convict wrote. “I remember thinking that if she insisted that others pay a price for their actions, so should she.”

Ms. Carver and a fellow whistleblower, Jennifer Griffith, say Andrus should have faced a stiffer penalty for his involvement in both the retaliation and his role in the actual scam, which they said is more extensive than the government has admitted.

“I understand the judge was limited and could only sentence former Chief ALJ Andrus to the charge of retaliation. However, I feel that it’s the Department of Justice’s fault for not holding him accountable and charging him with conspiracy which occurred between Andrus, Daugherty, and Conn,” Ms. Carver said.

She said she had repeatedly told Andrus about the scam that Conn and Daugherty were operating under his nose, but it went on for years.

In a lengthy statement to the court, she described one meeting where, with a “cold malice stare,” she said, “he told me it was none of my business.”

Both whistleblowers said Andrus’s attempts at apologies and explanations fell short.

“Former Chief ALJ Andrus has sought to minimize his role in the retaliation against Ms. Carver and myself for 12 years. He continued that minimization today,” said Ms. Griffith.

The government allowed Andrus to retire in 2014.

Social Security wouldn’t say whether he continues to collect retirement benefits, citing concerns for Andrus’s privacy.

Another Whistleblower Case Goes to Trial. This One Is Against Idaho State Police

A Boise judge Wednesday cleared the way for a jury to hear accusations the Idaho State Police retaliated against an employee who claimed the agency improperly meddled in the investigation of a fatal crash involving a sheriff’s deputy.

Crash investigator Brandon Eller, who still works for ISP, expressed concerns about other unethical and possibly illegal activities related to crash-reconstruction work in his January 2015 whistleblower claim. He said the retaliation includes reassigning him to night and weekend patrol duty and denying him pay increases.

A previous judge earlier denied an ISP motion to dismiss the lawsuit. On Wednesday, 4th District Judge Nancy Baskin ruled Eller’s case qualified to proceed under the state law protecting government employees from retaliation for reporting waste or legal violations.

The trial is set for Aug. 14 at the Ada County Courthouse before Judge Nancy Baskin in Boise.

ISP officials declined this week to comment on the case.

Eller’s is one of three lawsuits to claim ISP tried to cover up its investigation of a 2011 collision between a Payette County sheriff’s deputy and the driver of a Jeep. The deputy, driving a Ford Crown Victoria, was speeding; the Jeep’s driver was killed.

So far, ISP has largely prevailed in court.

Former ISP crash investigator Fred Rice sued in 2014, alleging the agency retaliated against him and forced him to retire early. The agency denied his claims, and District Judge Cheri Copsey rejected them in October 2015, ruling that no “genuine issue of material fact” existed for a jury to hear.

Jackie Raymond is the daughter of Barry Johnson, the man killed in the crash. She sued Payette County for wrongful death. She also sued ISP in February 2015 for “tortious interference,” saying the agency’s “cover-up and interference” and “evidence tampering” made it more difficult for the family to prove liability and defeated her wrongful-death case.

In January of this year, a judge dismissed Raymond’s claims against ISP but allowed her claims against Payette County to go forward. The trial had been scheduled for July 24, 2017, but it has been moved to April 23, 2018, before 3rd District Judge Christopher Nye in Payette.

A third crash investigator who made similar allegations, Quinn Carmack, filed a tort claim but did not follow through with a lawsuit. Carmack is still employed with ISP.

Barring a sudden settlement, Eller’s lawsuit would be the second notable government whistleblower case to go to trial in Ada County this year.

On March 14, a jury found in favor of former Ada County employee Rich Wright, who claimed the county fired him in part for ordering an investigation into allegations that a manager with the county commissioners’ office was harassing employees. The jury awarded him $1.7 million. The judge also awarded him $664,527 in legal fees.

Both Wright and Eller sued under the Idaho Protection of Public Employees Act, commonly referred to as the “Whistleblower Act.” That law protects “the integrity of government by providing a legal cause of action for public employees who experience the adverse action from their employer because of reporting waste and violations of law, rule or regulation.”

3rd Circuit Revives Ex-L’Oréal Patent Lawyer’s Whistleblower Suit

A federal appeals court on Tuesday revived a patent attorney’s lawsuit against L’Oréal USA Inc, ruling that his claim that the cosmetics company fired him for refusing to file what he considered poor quality patent applications was covered by New Jersey’s whistleblower law.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Steven Trzaska’s accusation that L’Oréal ordered him to disregard professional rules for licensed patent attorneys can form the basis for a claim under the Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA).