Tags: former fraud prosecutor | arrest | sell | whistleblower lawsuits

WashPost: Ex-DOJ Fraud Prosecutor Attempted to Sell Whistleblower Lawsuits

WashPost: Ex-DOJ Fraud Prosecutor Attempted to Sell Whistleblower Lawsuits
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By    |   Thursday, 25 January 2018 08:48 AM

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a former Justice Department corporate fraud prosecutor for selling sealed whistleblower lawsuits, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Jeffrey Wertkin secretly collected sealed lawsuits that had been brought by whistleblowers. He worked in the Justice Department's civil fraud division until 2016. He left with files for cases that had not been assigned, according to the Post. 

He carried out his operation for months and was arrested by an FBI agent in a California hotel lobby. Wertkin was wearing a wig and a fake mustache and trying to sell a sealed federal lawsuit for $310,000 to a Silicon Valley tech company. "My life is over," he told the undercover agent after his arrest.

Before his sentencing takes place March 7, Wertkin said he would meet with Justice Department supervisors to reveal how he stole the cases without being found out. That pledge is part of his plea deal on two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of transportation of stolen property, the Post reported.

"I knew and understood that doing so was an illegal theft of the complaints and, during my exit process, I intentionally lied to the Department of Justice about taking the complaints with me," Wertkin said at his plea hearing.

"I began secretly reviewing and collecting complaints to identify clients to solicit for business when I was in practice and, thereby, to make myself more successful" at the law firm where he was a partner, he said.

The firm at which he was employed, Akin Gump Strauss Hauser & Feld LLP, took "swift action" and said he was no longer employed at the firm, reported Bloomberg.

In violating the secrecy of whistleblower cases, Wertkin may scare off future whistleblowers, said Nola J. Hitchcock Cross, a managing attorney at the Cross Law Firm of Milwaukee, who worked with a whistleblower in one of Wertkin's fraud cases, the Post reported.

"Every time a potential whistleblower hesitates to bring fraud to the government attention, the taxpayers suffer a potential loss, often in the hundreds of millions of dollars," Cross said.

As part of his plea deal, prosecutors would not seek a prison sentence of more than 30 to 37 months, unless additional discoveries are made about Wertkin's actions.

"In a lapse of judgment, he made bad choices," said a statement from Wertkin's defense team, according to the Post. 

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested a former Justice Department corporate fraud prosecutor for selling sealed whistleblower lawsuits, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
former fraud prosecutor, arrest, sell, whistleblower lawsuits
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2018-48-25
Thursday, 25 January 2018 08:48 AM
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