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Former DOJ Trial Attorney Jose Vela Jr. Joins Clark Hill Healthcare Practice

July 22, 2021

Clark Hill announced that the firm has expanded its Healthcare practice with the addition of Jose Vela Jr., who joins the firm from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) where he served for over 20 years as Assistant United States Attorney (AUSA) and Lead Trial Attorney handling healthcare fraud matters. Vela has joined as Senior Counsel in the firm’s Houston and Chicago offices, and his practice will focus on representing clients in the healthcare industry with regard to compliance, insurance payment and reimbursement, and information technology issues.

“With Jose’s extensive DOJ healthcare fraud prosecution, investigation and civil litigation experience from a prosecutor’s perspective, he understands how federal investigations and enforcement actions against individuals and entities in the healthcare industry are handled from investigation through potential trial or settlement,” said Laura Reilly O’Hara, Leader of Clark Hill’s Healthcare practice. “Even more importantly, Jose is an esteemed, decorated former Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Army who will bring an elevated level of integrity and credibility in representing our clients before government agencies and courts,” O’Hara concluded.

Vela will work with clients in responding or defending effectively against government enforcement actions such as False Claims Act cases (FCA/qui tam), Office of Inspector General (OIG) subpoenas, or U.S. DOJ Civil Investigative Demands and brings his significant litigation experience to issues, including overpayment determinations or claim denials at the administrative, state, and federal court levels. Vela counsels clients of all sizes including sole proprietors, small businesses, C-suite executives, and large national health systems.

“The strength of Clark Hill’s Healthcare practice and its global reach, along with the firm’s multi-disciplinary team approach in solving clients’ most difficult issues, is an ideal platform for this next phase in my career as I enter private practice,” said Vela. “I look forward to working with lawyers across the firm to help clients with compliance, investigations, and litigation strategy.”

Prior to joining Clark Hill Vela served for more than 20 years as an AUSA and lead trial attorney with the DOJ in Texas. He investigated and prosecuted various healthcare fraud cases, including parallel criminal and multi-jurisdictional cases, committed against federally funded health insurance plans including Medicare and Medicaid. Vela settled an FCA case brought against a public hospital for $21.75 million, and in another matter, settled an FCA claim against a private children’s hospital and physician practice group for $2.3 million.

Vela brings deep experience working with all facets of government involved with healthcare fraud cases, including special agents, investigators, auditors, and statisticians from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General (OIG), Federal Drug Administration (FDA), Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and Medicaid Fraud Control Unit (MFCU).

Jose served as lead trial counsel for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with regard to Medicare reimbursement and program integrity matters, and he successfully represented them in overpayment determinations, claim denials, enrollment suspensions, enrollment revocations, and recoupment actions.

Prior to his service as an AUSA, Vela was an Assistant State’s Attorney for the Kane County (Illinois) State’s Attorney’s Office in the Chicago metropolitan area.  He served as lead trial lawyer and legal advisor for the County of Kane, its departments, and officials, handling matters, including  Public Health, Environmental, Personal Injury, Labor, and general Litigation issues.

A retired Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Army, Vela had a distinguished 28-year military career and is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. As an Army officer, he led, managed, and trained military units, command staffs, and personnel to accomplish joint military operations worldwide at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels.

Among his many military and civilian awards, Vela was named a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation; is the recipient of numerous Service awards from the U.S. Department of Justice; and earned two Army Meritorious Medals, four Army Commendation Medals, an Army Superior Unit Award, and a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, among others from the U.S. Army.

Vela earned an LL.M. from the University of Houston Law Center in Health Law, a  J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School where he was President of the Student Body and received the Outstanding Leadership Award, and earned both a B.S. and B.A. from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

Actively engaged in the community, Vela is a mentor in the S.T.E.P. program at DePaul University, a mentor for the Hispanic Alliance for Career Development, and a volunteer for Toys for Tots (U.S. Marine Reserves) and community sports leagues.

About Clark Hill

At Clark Hill, our value proposition is simple. We offer our clients an exceptional team, dedicated to the delivery of outstanding service. We recruit and develop talented individuals and empower them to contribute to our rich diversity of legal and industry experience. With 26 locations and more than 650 lawyers spanning the United States, Ireland, and Mexico, we work in agile, collaborative teams, partnering with our clients to help them reach and exceed their business goals. Please visit the firm’s website at or follow the firm on Twitter @ClarkHillLaw.

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