John O'Brien Jan. 14, 2014, 4:53pm

WASHINGTON - The federal government took in a record amount of money as a result of False Claims Act lawsuits in fiscal year 2013.

The Department of Justice announced in late December that it secured $3.8 billion in settlements and judgments during the fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Since January 2009, the government has recovered $17 billion from False Claims Act claims.

"It has been another banner year for civil fraud recoveries, but more importantly, it has been a great year for the taxpayer and for the millions of Americans, state agencies and organizations that benefit from government programs and contracts," Assistant Attorney General Stuart F. Delery said.

"The $3.8 billion in federal False Claims Act recoveries in fiscal year 2013, plus another $443 million in recoveries for state Medicaid programs, restores scarce taxpayer dollars to federal and state governments.

"The government's success in these cases is also a strong deterrent to others who would misuse public funds, which means government programs designed to keep us safer, healthier and economically more prosperous can do so without the corrosive effects of fraud and false claims."

The DOJ cites a 1986 amendment to the FCA that provides financial incentives to corporate whistleblowers. That has led to more investigations and greater recoveries, the DOJ said.

The majority of the $3.8 billion came from health care fraud cases, which resulted in $2.6 billion.

Abbott Laboratories paid $1.5 billion to resolve allegations it illegally promoted the drug Depakote to treat agitation and aggression in elderly dementia patients. Also, Amgen Inc. paid $762 million over its promotion of its anemia drug Aranesp.

The DOJ also secured $887 million in settlements and judgments based on allegations of false claims and corruption involving government contracts.

A majority of that amount came from a $664 million judgment against defense contractor United Technologies Corp., which was found to have made false statements to the Air Force while negotiating a contract for fighter jet engines.

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