Tuesday, April 30, 2002

Subpeonas: 'Do not be afraid'
Q. What if I'm issued a federal subpoena from a U.S. attorney or other government agency?

A. In recent history we have seen government agencies crash into home health companies with guns drawn and waiving federal subpoenas and search warrants. They seized everything from billing records to computers to office policy manuals. In most cases, the government will issue investigatory subpoenas first when they are just starting their investigations. Unfortunately, most companies have no idea how to respond. If you have legal counsel the best thing is to notify them as soon as possible. However, like many small companies, legal counsel can get very expensive and drain cash reserves. There are measures you can take to help yourself and comply with the subpoena. You can contact the issuing agency and open a dialogue. In most cases, they will be willing to work with you toward a resolution. Ask if you can get an extension of time to get your documents together. Inquire about the nature of the investigation. Are you the target or are they merely collecting information about a manufacturer you use or something else?

The thing to keep in mind is do not be afraid. If you have sound business practices and have complied with documentation requirements you should have no qualms about turning over your information. The best way to handle these things are head on. Show that you are willing to comply and work with the government You will be better off in the end.

Erica Rochelle is a v.p. of compliance with the KMT Group. Reach her at 803-254-3995.