Section 68.082, Florida Statutes 2001
68.082 False claims against the state; definitions; liability.--
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) "Agency" means any official, officer, commission, board, authority, council, committee, or department of the executive branch of state government.
(b) "Claim" includes any request or demand, under a contract or otherwise, for money, property, or services, which is made to any employee, officer, or agent of an agency, or to any contractor, grantee, or other recipient if the agency provides any portion of the money or property requested or demanded, or if the agency will reimburse the contractor, grantee, or other recipient for any portion of the money or property requested or demanded.
(c) "Knowing" or "knowingly" means, with respect to information, that a person:
1. Has actual knowledge of the information;
2. Acts in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information; or
3. Acts in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information.
No proof of specific intent to defraud is required. Innocent mistake shall be a defense to an action under this act.
(d) "State government" means the government of the state or any department, division, bureau, commission, regional planning agency, board, district, authority, agency, or other instrumentality of the state.
(e) "Department" means the Department of Legal Affairs, except as specifically provided in ss. 68.083 and 68.084.
(2) Any person who:
(a) Knowingly presents or causes to be presented to an officer or employee of an agency a false claim for payment or approval;
(b) Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used a false record or statement to get a false or fraudulent claim paid or approved by an agency;
(c) Conspires to submit a false claim to an agency or to deceive an agency for the purpose of getting a false or fraudulent claim allowed or paid;
(d) Has possession, custody, or control of property or money used or to be used by an agency and, intending to deceive the agency or knowingly conceal the property, delivers or causes to be delivered less property than the amount for which the person receives a certificate or receipt;
(e) Is authorized to make or deliver a document certifying receipt of property used or to be used by an agency and, intending to deceive the agency, makes or delivers the receipt without knowing that the information on the receipt is true;
(f) Knowingly buys or receives, as a pledge of an obligation or a debt, public property from an officer or employee of an agency who may not sell or pledge the property lawfully; or
(g) Knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used a false record or statement to conceal, avoid, or decrease an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to an agency,
is liable to the state for a civil penalty of not less than $5,000 and not more than $10,000 and for treble the amount of damages the agency sustains because of the act or omission of that person.
(3) The court may reduce the treble damages authorized under subsection (2) if the court finds one or more of the following specific extenuating circumstances:
(a) The person committing the violation furnished officials of the agency responsible for investigating false claims violations with all information known to the person about the violation within 30 days after the date on which the person first obtained the information;
(b) The person fully cooperated with any official investigation of the violation;
(c) At the time the person furnished the agency with the information about the violation, no criminal prosecution, civil action, or administrative action had commenced under this section with respect to the violation, and the person did not have actual knowledge of the existence of an investigation into the violation;
in which case the court shall award no less than 2 times the amount of damages sustained by the agency because of the act of the person. The court shall set forth in a written order its findings and basis for reducing the treble damages award.
History.--s. 2, ch. 94-316.