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CEO: probable cause or not, DOJ out to get company executives

The head of a medical device maker and his company targeted in a whistleblower lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice were exonerated in a trial concluded earlier this year. Specifically, they were found not guilty on 10 criminal charges.

As noted in a recent media piece profiling that case and myriad other matters with similar allegations and outcomes, that company chief, Howard Root of Vascular Solutions, has been "one ticked-off medtech CEO" ever since.

The reason: Root is convinced that DOJ investigators are after individuals like him (that is, uppermost-tier corporate executives), regardless of whether they have any reasonable basis to suspect criminal wrongdoing.

What's driving them to be hyper aggressive, contends Root, is a DOJ memo from last year. That communication stressed the importance of identifying and taking strong legal action against corporate misconduct, and specifically proceeding when possible against highest-echelon corporate actors.

And that is simply not fair, contends Root (and certainly many others similarly targeted) who get caught in the crosshairs of aggressive state and federal criminal probes alleging fraudulent business behavior.

The above-cited media report spotlights several matters noted by Root at a recent conference that give some impetus to his claim. One of them involved a criminal case brought against a health care company president based upon the DOJ view that his company had engaged in fraudulent conduct. Although the company ultimately pled guilty to a single criminal count violating the federal False Claims Act, the president was found innocent of any wrongdoing.

A similar outcome occurred in another case also, with company executives being acquitted by a jury of 14 felony charges.

Root's view is provocative, if not incendiary, namely, that corporate leaders have a bulls-eye on their back, with the criminal focus on them being completely unjustified in some instances.

"This is a group of people who are out to get all of us," he said at the aforementioned conference.

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