Tampa-based federal prosecutors are touting a settlement reached in a health fraud case as protecting Floridians.

U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill said the federal government has reached a settlement with Texas-based medical laboratory Ameritox, Ltd. of $16.3 million.

Federal authorities say Ameritox, a company specializing in laboratory testing, paid kickbacks to its customers in the medical community ”in order to induce them to refer Medicare business,” according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release.

The settlement is the result of a lawsuit filed by a former employee of Ameritox, who sued under the False Claims Act, which allows citizens who know of fraud being committed against the federal government to file suit on behalf of the government. The act also allows for the plaintiff to share in any recovery obtained as a result of the suit.

Because of the suit filed in Florida’s middle district, the former employee, Debra Maul, will receive $3.4 million from the settlement, according to the press release.

“This settlement marks another notable achievement in our continuing campaign against health care fraud in Tampa Bay,” O’Neill stated in the release.

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