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City Accountant Wins $662,363 in Whistleblower Suit

July-28-07

Eric Heckmann, an accountant with the City of Detroit, was just doing his job when he wrote a letter to officials reporting what he believed to be evidence of financial misconduct within the police department.

When a request to meet with Deputy Police Chief Brenda Goss Andrews, supervisor of the department's management services bureau to discuss the problem was ignored, Heckmann wrote a letter to Chief of Police Jerry Oliver and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.

The five page letter detailed charges of mismanagement and fraud within the department, including the hiring of unnecessary employees who performed no meaningful work, misuse of overtime, falsification of time records, misuse of government property and premature payments of invoices, according to court records.

High ranking officials answered Heckmannís letter with threats, intimidation and discrimination against him, according to the whistleblower lawsuit he filed prior to his September 2005 retirement from the city.

In October 2005 a jury agreed with Heckmann and awarded the retiring accountant $660,000.

The city appealed the jury verdict claiming the court abused its discretion by denying requests to postpone the trial because Eric Heckmann's supervisor, Hasumati Patel, was unavailable due to an unexplained emergency.  

On July 11 2007 a three-judge panel of Appeals Court judges unanimously confirmed the jury's verdict and the Wayne County Circuit Court's handling of the trial. The panel ordered the city to pay Heckmann the $600,000 judgment and more than $60,000 in accumulated interest.

Each year, hundreds of whistleblower cases are filed and many are settled for millions of dollars. Whistleblower cases are designed to hold public entities accountable while protecting and compensating  victims and/or the whistleblower. Typically, the whistleblower receives a percentage of the lawsuit settlement funds.

If you have identified illegal behavior by individuals or groups from a corporation or a government agency, you can contact a [Whistleblower] lawyer who will evaluate your claim at no charge.  Click here for legal help and a free evaluation of your possible case .

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