Michael I. Behn is an experienced trial lawyer and former federal prosecutor who specializes in the civil prosecution of fraud. He founded the Chicago law firm Behn & Wyetzner, Chartered. Mr. Behn primarily represents citizens who have reported fraud against the government under the qui tam provisions of the state and federal False Claims Acts.
Career Achievements and Honors
Mr. Behn was named the first whistleblowers’ “Lawyer of the Year” by the nationwide organization Taxpayers Against Fraud. The group commended Mr. Behn’s “tenacity, management skills and dedication” in his representation of relators under the False Claims Act. He has also been repeatedly recognized as both a “Super Lawyer” and a “Leading Lawyer” in Illinois. In a profile of his practice, the Chicago Daily Law Reporter described Mr. Behn as “exceptionally able to prosecute highly complex financial frauds,” and quoted one judge as praising him for having “skills not common among litigators.”
Among his many successes, Mr. Behn represented the relator pharmacist in recovering over $120 million in multi-state Medicaid fraud settlements of drug switching allegations against Walgreens, CVS and Omnicare (the nation’s largest pharmacy serving nursing homes). In another settlement handled by Mr. Behn, Northrop Grumman Corp. paid $134 million to resolve a fraud case involving the B-2 “Stealth” bomber and other military programs. For that case, Mr. Behn, with his colleagues, was nominated as “Trial Lawyer of the Year” by the Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.
Mr. Behn currently serves as relator’s counsel in multi-state intervened cases alleging that Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks to influence drug selections in nursing homes and that Par Pharmaceuticals conspired with pharmacies to switch drugs to Par’s higher-priced products. In other False Claims Act cases:
- Mr. Behn represented former executives of ad agency Leo Burnett in a $15 million settlement involving the “Army of One” contract.
- Mr. Behn obtained the maximum 25% relator’s share recovery for his client in a case revealing criminal fraud in public road projects.
- Mr. Behn represented the American Association of Retired Persons and Taxpayers Against Fraud in successfully defending the constitutionality of the Illinois Whistleblower Reward and Protection Act before the Illinois Supreme Court.
Mr. Behn was also one of the relator’s counsel in U.S. ex rel. Tyson v. Amerigroup, which achieved a $334 million judgment, and in U.S. ex rel. Chandler v Hektoen, the U.S. Supreme Court case establishing that municipalities can be liable under the False Claims Act.
Mr. Behn also has a record of achievements in prosecuting securities fraud. Recently, Mr. Behn represented a billion-dollar pension fund and the class of investors in a securities fraud suit involving the V-22 “Osprey” aircraft. That case was settled for $7 million. Other major cases have included the felony conviction of the vice-chairman of a New York futures exchange, the largest securities fraud settlement in Chicago history ($220 million), and a major securities fraud case involving the merger of a telecommunications company ($239 million).
Mr. Behn is a recognized national expert on the False Claims Act. He has frequently lectured on the False Claims Act and other topics to prosecutors, investigators, auditors and others at the invitation of the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S Department of State, the U.S. Department of Justice, the Institute of Internal Auditors, the Chicago Bar Association and many other groups. He has been quoted in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun Times, and in other news media concerning his cases and the False Claims Act.
Further Professional Experience
Before entering private practice, Mr. Behn served as a fraud prosecutor with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, as a Trial Attorney with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and as a Judicial Clerk in the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont.
Mr. Behn holds a J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law (in Boston) and an A.B. from Dartmouth College.