Polsinelli has hired Brian Rafferty, who was the criminal division chief for the U.S Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Georgia, as a shareholder in its white-collar investigations practice. He joined Polsinelli’s Atlanta office on Monday.
After spending almost 11 years at the prosecutor’s office, which is in Savannah, Rafferty rejoins a former colleague, Brian McEvoy, now the managing partner of Polsinelli’s Atlanta office.
When McEvoy left the Savannah U.S. attorney’s office for private practice in 2009, Rafferty succeeded him as the office’s health care fraud coordinator and then became its criminal chief in 2010.
“Polsinelli is known nationally for its health care practice, which includes health care fraud and investigations, and related government fraud,” McEvoy said. “Brian has experience in both.”
McEvoy added that the two tried cases together as federal prosecutors. “I immediately recognized his talent as a trial lawyer” and was glad to recruit Rafferty, McEvoy said.
Rafferty expands Polsinelli’s national government investigations practice, McEvoy said, becoming the fifth former federal prosecutor to join the group. Meanwhile, Rafferty is the 36th lawyer for Polsinelli’s Atlanta office, giving its local government investigations team six lawyers.
Rafferty started out as a state prosecutor in Long Island, then spent eight years in private practice at a New York white-collar boutique, Dornbush, Schaeffer, Strongin & Venaglia, before becoming a federal prosecutor.
Rafferty said he chose Polsinelli for his return to private practice because of his 10-year friendship with McEvoy and because of Polsinelli’s national health care practice, which includes a strong focus on government health care fraud investigations.
“I wanted to focus on health care fraud in the private sector, and I was impressed with the complexity of the work they’re doing,” Rafferty said. “I’m excited to be joining the firm and work on some of those matters myself.”
“I’d done just about everything I felt I could do in the U.S. attorneys’ office,” he added, saying he wanted to use the skills and experience he developed as a prosecutor in a new venue.
Because the Savannah U.S. Attorney’s Office is relatively small, with about 25 prosecutors, Rafferty was able to prosecute a number of big cases—including that of Aubrey Lee Price, the South Georgia banker who faked his own death—while supervising the criminal division caseload.
The Price case attracted national media coverage. The former banker and pastor embezzled $21 million from Montgomery Bank & Trust, then faked his suicide in June 2012, seemingly jumping off a ferry en route from Ft. Myers to Key West, Florida, after sending suicide notes to family and friends. He was arrested in Brunswick, Georgia, in December 2013.
Price confessed and pleaded guilty to fraud charges, receiving the maximum sentence of 30 years. He also was ordered to pay $51 million in restitution.
Rafferty prosecuted a number of Medicare and Medicaid fraud cases, including a scheme to defraud Medicaid for children’s nutritional supplements where the perpetrators charged millions for unprovided infusion therapy services, and several cases where the perpetrators charged Medicare for unprovided durable medical equipment.
Rafferty also prosecuted one of the Savannah U.S. attorney’s office’s largest “pill mill” cases: A federal jury in 2014 convicted a doctor, Cleveland Enmon, of more than 90 counts of drug distribution for prescribing hundreds of thousands of pain medications for no legitimate medical purpose. Enmon received a 20-year prison sentence. Two other doctors, the owner and the manager of Brunswick Wellness, where Enmon worked, were also convicted.
“It’s a quiet place, but there’s some interesting things going on down there,” Rafferty said of South Georgia.
Rafferty’s departure from the Savannah U.S. attorney’s office follows those of the office’s interim U.S. attorney, Jim Durham, and appellate chief, Brian Tanner, last fall for Savannah plaintiffs firm Savage, Turner, Durham, Pinckney & Savage.