No law firm has done more than Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto to establish rights for employees of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to report fraud or misconduct.
KKC successfully represented FBI whistleblowers that documented illegal searches under the Patriot Act’s “National Security Letter” program; documented deficiencies in the FBI’s counterterrorism program and misconduct in its investigations at the World Trade Center site after 9/11; forced the FBI to improve and accredit its crime lab; forced the Department of Justice to review thousands of criminal convictions based on documented forensic fraud at the crime lab; and won the first-ever retaliation lawsuit against the FBI.
KKC won landmark victories protecting FBI whistleblowers
In 1997, KKC won a landmark victory and was responsible for a historic presidential directive ordering the U.S. Attorney General to implement regulations protecting FBI whistleblowers. The representation of Dr. Frederic Whitehurst, the FBI scientist who blew the whistle on misconduct within the FBI crime lab, resulted in extensive reforms being made. See Whistleblower Protection for Federal Bureau of Investigation Employees – 28 CFR PART 27.
Furthermore, KKC represented former FBI Agent, Jane Turner, in her five-year legal battle against the FBI in which a jury awarded Turner the maximum compensatory damages permitted under Title VII. The total recovery, costs, fees and damages awarded exceeded $1.5 million. The firm also assisted Ms. Turner in raising allegations of theft at the World Trade Center Ground Zero by FBI agents. These allegations led to an investigation by the DOJ Inspector General. The IG Investigation Report found that there had been misconduct by FBI agents and led to new agency regulations preventing the taking of souvenirs from crime scenes.
Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto represented FBI whistleblower Bassem Youssef, a retired Unit Chief in the Federal Bureau of Investigation Counterterrorism Division, in discrimination and retaliation claims. He coordinated major investigations into Middle Eastern terrorist groups commencing in the late 1980s. He speaks fluent Arabic and is the highest ranking Arabic-American counterterrorism official with this skill.
Rather than utilizing his experience and expertise, he was sidelined in the FBI’s role in counterterrorism even as the FBI was publicly claiming a shortage of Arabic speaking agents. Mr. Youssef reported this and other deficiencies in the FBI’s counterterrorism division, and as a result, he experienced discriminatory retaliation.
In July 2006, the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that the FBI illegally retaliated against Mr. Youssef because he had made whistleblower disclosures to the Director of the FBI and a Member of Congress.
Despite a warning from his superiors, FBI Special Agent Bassem Youssef answered questions at a January 12 session of the ALA Midwinter Meeting.
The Whistleblower’s Handbook: A Step-by-Step Guide to Doing What’s Right and Protecting Yourself offers more details of the Turner case in “Rule 30: Never Forget: Whistleblowing Works.”
If you are an FBI whistleblower with knowledge of misconduct and would like to know how Kohn, Kohn & Colapinto can help you with your case, please complete our Contact Form.
For more information, see our resource page on Whistleblower Protections for members of the Intelligence Community.
Frequently Asked Questions
The False Claims Act, linked here, is codified as 31 U.S.C. §§ 3729-33. Section 3729 sets forth anti-fraud requirements of the Act, and Section 3730 includes the provisions related to filing a qui tam lawsuit.
Most of the reward laws have a mandatory minimum and maximum award level. Under the False Claims Act and IRS whistleblower law the minimum award is 15% and the maximum award if 30%. Under the Security Exchange Act, Commodity Exchange Act and FCPA the minimum award is 10% and the maximum award if 30%. To qualify for a reward the whistleblower’s original information must be responsible for a successful enforcement action or prosecution.
The term qui tam is a Latin phrase which means “in the name of the King.” Qui tam lawsuits or claims allow individuals to earn financial rewards on the government’s behalf if their disclosures lead to successful enforcement actions. Permitting whistleblowers to use qui tam laws to obtain rewards is now incorporated into many modern whistleblower laws, including the False Claims Act.
Yes. Non-U.S. citizens can hire whistleblower attorneys. CFTC whistleblowers who live outside of the U.S. can hire attorneys to assist in filing their Dodd-Frank Act or Commodity Exchange Act case. In order to file an anonymous claim, you are required to hire a licensed U.S. attorney. Request a free consultation with an experienced attorney today.
Many whistleblower attorneys work for a “contingency” fee. In a contingency fee case the clients do not pay any attorney’s fees. If the whistleblower loses his or her case, they do not owe the attorney any money. If the whistleblower wins the case, the contingency payment for the attorney is generally between 30-40% of the award.
Originally signed in 1863 by President Lincoln, the federal False Claims Act was modernized in 1986 and is first contemporary whistleblower reward law. Other reward laws are modeled on the False Claims Act.
In a qui tam action, a private party known as a relator or a whistleblower brings an action on the government’s behalf against a person or company who is believed to have violated the law. The qui tam whistleblower can receive monetary rewards if their disclosures result in a successful enforcement action. Each qui tam law has its own filing procedures and rules. These include laws covering government procurement and contracting, Medicaid or Medicare frauds, securities and commodities frauds, tax evasion or the underpayment of taxes, money laundering, and foreign bribery, among others.
Qui tam is a Latin phrase that translates to “in the name of the King.” It is a medieval concept in which citizens were granted the powers of the King to help enforce the law.
The concept of qui tam, which allows individuals to qualify for financial rewards on the government’s behalf if their disclosures lead to successful enforcement actions, is incorporated into many modern whistleblower laws, including the False Claims Act.