By: Marc Stephen Raspanti
May 03, 2016
Marc Raspanti is one of the few lawyers in the country who has an active white collar criminal defense practice along with an active False Claims Act whistleblower practice.
Half the time he spends defending corporate crime cases. And half the time he spends suing corporations on behalf of whistleblowers to recover millions stolen from the U.S. government. Raspanti is a partner at Pietragallo Gordon Alfano Bosick & Raspanti in Philadelphia. The Pietragallo firm’s work is about 80 percent defense side and 20 percent plaintiffs side. But Raspanti’s practice is about half and half. He likes working both sides of the aisle.
And sometimes, working a False Claims Act case opens the door to criminal referrals.
“It opens the door to relationships,” Raspanti told Corporate Crime Reporter in an interview last week. “If you get a chance to work with us, you see that we can do two things at the same time. And I’ve been lucky enough to get referrals from some of the same large firms that I have had many years of litigation with. I have had professional relationships with all of my adversaries. That’s just the way I operate.”
“Then I get referrals of individual executives. The last five or six years, we have started to get involved with a fair number of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) cases. Those are international cases. There are former executives and current executives. I do tend to get referrals from foreign companies who have divisions in the United States. I have represented a number of German, Japanese, French, Swedish and Italian executives. I also get referrals from professionals who know we have a particular expertise in a certain area.”
“For example, over the last ten years, I have handled close to two dozen dermatology fraud cases in the United States. I tend to get calls from dermatologists who might find themselves under investigation. I have tried some of those cases to verdict. I used to do a lot of government contracting work — on the defense side.”
Even though Raspanti made his mark in the False Claims Act arena, he’s partial to criminal defense cases.
“In the first few years 1986 to 1992 — the False Claims bar might have had 25 to 30 people. There may be 500 to 600 people now who claim to be doing False Claims work somewhere in the United States. The size of the bar has increased. The litigation has exploded.”
“When I first started practicing, you brought a case to the federal government. At that time, no states had False Claims laws. There are now 30 states that have them. You would bring your case to the federal government and the government would decide to either take over the case and intervene or decline the case and generally we would dismiss. Over the last five years or so, there are a number of plaintiffs firms who have decided to move forward and litigate those cases on their own.”
“That has been a real shift in the paradigm. There are a number of us who are now moving forward with these cases without the government and engaging in fairly complex cases against some of the largest law firms in America and suing some of the largest defendants without the government or with the government in a monitoring position.”
And now, some of the cases that dominated the 1990s are coming back.
“Government contracting cases are starting to come back into the forefront,” Raspanti said. “The government is starting to put in resources for people who know how to do those cases. You are going to start to see fraud cases that people thought were extinguished — they will start to come back — laboratory fraud and hospital fraud cases are coming back. Mutations of FCPA cases will spawn some type of qui tam litigation. That might include what I would call a trifecta — a False Claims Act case, and SEC action, coupled with an IRS action. Health care is not going away. No matter what happens during the election and what people do to tinker with some of the fraud programs, they are just going to open up other doors for fraud enforcement. Some of the giant programs passed over the last eight or ten years — like the Medicare Part D program — people haven’t started to scratch the surface of the type of fraud cases you are going to see coming out of there.”
“Managed care cases — people in law enforcement, the plaintiffs bar and the defense bar — are trying to figure out how to stop fraud in those areas and how to prosecute fraud in those areas. Those would be a few of the ones that should be on everyone’s radar.”
[For the complete q/a format Interview with Marc Raspanti, see 30 Corporate Crime Reporter 18(12), May 2, 2016, print edition only.]