The Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, a nonprofit hospital based in Brooklyn, has agreed to pay $300,000 to the United States to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act based on the conduct of former employees who engaged in a scheme to defraud the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Brookdale cooperated fully throughout the investigation. The settlement agreement, which resolved claims under the Federal False Claims Act, was approved yesterday by United States District Judge I. Leo Glasser.
The USDA-funded WIC program provides grants to states for supplemental foods, health care referrals and nutrition education for lower-income pregnant, breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children who are found to be at nutritional risk. The United States contends that between 2010 and 2016, former Brookdale employees, including the former director of Brookdale’s WIC program, engaged in a scheme to defraud the WIC program by, among other things, causing ineligible persons to be qualified for WIC benefits and misappropriating WIC program funds. The United States further alleges that these former employees falsified time sheets and other records concerning work purportedly performed by breastfeeding peer counselors, and falsified budget records to inflate Brookdale’s purported requirements for WIC funds.
The settlement includes the resolution of a civil action brought under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act against Brookdale. Under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, a private party can file an action on behalf of the United States and receive a portion of the settlement if the government takes over the case and reaches a monetary agreement with the defendant. The qui tam case is captioned United States ex rel. Young v. The Brookdale Hospital Medical Center, No. 19-CV-2272 (E.D.N.Y.).
The claims resolved by the settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.