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GAINESVILLE, Fla.—A former human resources manager for a Florida elderly care services company has filed suit alleging his employer fired him for cooperating with a state Medicare fraud investigation.
Richard Castillo worked at the Gainesville, Fla.-based Council on Aging of Florida Inc. from 2008 until May of this year.
In January 2010, the state attorney general's office began investigating the company for potential Medicare fraud and other illegal practices.
In a federal lawsuit filed Sept. 9 in Gainesville, Fla., Mr. Castillo alleges that he informed his superiors, including CEO and primary shareholder Maxcine Darville, that he intended to speak with the state investigators and that he “would not cover up past fraudulent activities,” according to the suit.
As the investigation stretched on for more than year, the state began inquiring about other unlawful activities, including hiring practices, salary inflation and employee conduct.
“(Mr. Castillo) communicated to Ms. Darville that he had shared truthful information with the state authorities regarding the handling of multiple sexual harassment complaints, the possible hiring of an illegal alien and salaries that were given in excess” of the approved corporate pay rate schedule, according to the suit.
On May 13, Mr. Castillo said he was fired without cause as retaliation for providing information to the state investigators, according to the complaint.
The Council on Aging of Florida said through a spokesman on Friday that it would not comment on pending litigation.
Mr. Castillo also alleges he was not the only council employee fired for cooperating with state investigators, and that “other key officers,” including the company's former chief operating officer and chief financial officer, also were let go after speaking with investigators.
Mr. Castillo is seeking two years of back wages and damages for the alleged breach of his employment contract and violation of his rights under state whistle-blower laws.
The case was filed in federal court because it seeks damages exceeding $75,000 and involves underlying federal questions, specifically Medicare fraud and violations of the federal False Claims Act, according to the suit.