An Alabama law firm that sued Taco Bell for mislabeling beef has its own connections to alleged fraudulent behavior.
The Beasley Allen firm, of Montgomery, generated national headlines in January when it joined with a California firm to file a lawsuit against Taco Bell. The suit was filed on behalf of a single California client, but it sought class-action status. It claimed that what Taco Bell called "beef" was largely additives and did not meet federal standards for a product called "beef."
Both sides claimed victory Tuesday after Beasley Allen announced that it had dropped the lawsuit. But the story does not end there. For one thing, Taco Bell says it wants an apology for being forced to spend substantial sums of money defending a groundless lawsuit. The firm launched a public-relations campaign yesterday, taking out full-page ads in several newspapers with the headline, "Would it kill you to say you're sorry."
Law firms are not noted for issuing apologies, but the public should know this: Beasley Allen, while pointing an accusatory finger at Taco Bell, regularly affiliates itself with an attorney who has been charged in a federal whistleblower lawsuit with fraud. In fact, you might say that Beasley Allen engages the services of a lawyer who does not meet the general standards for a person called "ethical."
Homewood attorney Rob Riley, the son of former GOP governor Bob Riley, has worked with Beasley Allen on a number of cases. These include lawsuits against nursing homes and a rollover-death case involving a GEO Tracker. Founding partner Jere Beasley has referred to Riley as "a good lawyer" in press reports.
Beasley might want to check out a federal lawsuit, filed in 2008 under the False Claims Act (FCA), claiming that a firm Riley owns engages in Medicare fraud and other illegal activity. Performance Group LLC provides physical-therapy services and counts Riley among its owners. At least two members of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) medical staff have been affiliated with Performance Group.
A whistleblower filed the FCA complaint after gathering first-hand evidence about Performance Group's activities while managing one of the firm's clinics. No substantive action has been taken on the case, largely because U.S. District Judge William M. Acker refused to grant the federal government an extension of time to investigate the claims.
Our research indicates multiple extensions of time routinely are requested and granted in whistleblower cases. But Acker, an 83-year-old Reagan appointee who has long-time ties to Republican Party politics, refused to grant an extension in the Performance Group case.
Did Acker do this to protect Rob Riley, the son of a then sitting GOP governor? We have gathered evidence that indicates the answer to that question is yes. On a personal note, I've witnessed Acker's unlawful handling of my federal employment lawsuit against UAB, an institution that, as noted earlier, has ties to Rob Riley's ethically challenged company. We will be presenting loads of evidence that prove William Acker is a disgrace to the federal bench, a corrupt old phony who definitely is cheating me and probably is cheating a federal whistleblower in order to protect Rob Riley.
The Taco Bell/Beasley Allen story raises several issues that hit close to home here at Legal Schnauzer. Evidence strongly suggests that Rob Riley, or someone associated with him, helped cause me to be unlawfully terminated as an editor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB), after 19 years on the job. As we have reported several times, there is no doubt that I was fired from a public institution because I was blogging--on my own time, away from work--about the political prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman:
Blog About Siegelman, Lose Your Job
And how do we know that? The proof is in this audiotaped conversation I had with UAB human-resources official Anita Bonasera a few days after I was placed on administrative leave. Between 1:35 and 2:30 on the audio, Bonasera admits that I was targeted because of my blog, specifically because of its content about the Siegelman case:
Audio: UAB and the Cost of Blogging About the Siegelman Case
A reader several months ago suggested that I contact Beasley Allen about possible representation in my employment lawsuit against UAB. I was unaware of the firm's ties to Rob Riley at the time, so I agreed to a telephone consultation with attorney Larry Golston. I later received a letter from Golston stating that Beasley Allen declined to represent me.
I had no problem with that, but this question now comes to mind: Did Beasley Allen decline to represent me because of its affiliation with Rob Riley? If so, does that mean Beasley Allen knows Rob Riley was involved in cheating me out of my job at UAB? If that's the case, it means Beasley Allen is violating Rule 8.3 of the Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, which states:
(a) A lawyer possessing unprivileged knowledge of a violation of Rule 8.4 [Misconduct] shall report such knowledge to a tribunal or other authority empowered to investigate or act upon such violation.
Such a violation would place Beasley Allen in danger of being sanctioned by the Alabama State Bar--at least in theory.
We mentioned earlier that U.S. District Judge William Acker appears to be protecting Rob Riley in multiple cases. In a recent post, we reported that Bob Riley asked current Attorney General Luther Strange to "protect" Riley's children--Rob Riley and Minda Riley Campbell. That, of course, raises this question: Why does Rob Riley need protecting?
That question should be put to Jere Beasley, who uses Riley's services with one hand while claiming Taco Bell deceives the public with the other. Here is another question for Beasley: Are you and your firm engaging in massive hypocrisy by pointing out alleged deception of others while working with a lawyer who has been accused of bilking the federal government.
What allegations are included in the whistleblower case against Performance Group LLC? We will be writing much more about the case soon, but here is an overview of key claims:
* The company routinely forges physician signatures on prescriptions for physical-therapy services;
* The company routinely bills Medicare for services that were not rendered or were not medically necessary;
* The company filed false claims related to the issuance of back braces, neck collars, and other medical devices;
* The company violated federal Stark Laws by selling ownership interests to physicians and then encouraging those physician/owners to refer patients to Performance Group.
This is just an appetizer for a widespread fraud scheme that involves Rob Riley and individuals associated with UAB. We will be providing much more information in future posts.
Beasley Allen owes Taco Bell an apology. It owes the general public an explanation for its ties to Rob Riley.