Alex Ferrer is shining a spotlight on everyday people who are stepping up to corporate greed on the new show Whistleblower. Before his TV career took off, Ferrer served as a police officer in Florida, received his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Miami and was appointed to the Miami Circuit Court as a judge all before the age of 35. Now Ferrer is using his extensive history with the law and his passion for doing right to provide a platform for corporate change in the U.S.
CBS Local's Matt Weiss spoke to Ferrer ahead of Whistleblower's series premiere this Friday.
MW: Hey Alex, how's it going?
AF: Good Matt, how are you doing?
MW: Doing good over here! I'm so glad I got the chance to talk to you today because I've been looking forward to the premiere of Whistleblower for a while now. What did you find so enticing about making a show like this?
AF: Well most people who watch Judge Alex know that I was a police officer at a very young age and then an attorney and then a judge before I started doing the TV show. But I'm still an attorney, I have a law practice and part of what I do is whistleblower work. It's lead me to really focus on the fact that the stories of whistleblowers, what they go through and what they do for us, are fascinating stories. So I paired up with CBS - my partner Ted Eccles and I brought it to CBS and they just fined tuned it to a gem of a show. When you watch this show you're going to feel for these individuals who, at great personal risk they came forward and basically threw away their job, often threw away their career, because they were working for somebody who was stealing from all of us and they weren't going to sit back and let it happen.
So many people say, "Well that's wrong but I need a paycheck - I've got kids to raise, I've got a mortgage to pay," all of us do and these people really often suffer greatly. We've had whistleblowers who lose their homes, sometimes lose their marriage because they came forward and did the right thing. You feel for them in that respect and you can relate to them. There is a law out there that allows for whistleblowers to be compensated and what I love about this is that these whistleblowers, when they decide to blow the whistle, don't even know there's the possibility of a reward. They do it because it's the right thing to do and then they're surprised to find out that if they prevail in the whistleblower lawsuit they can receive a substantial reward. We've had whistleblowers who've received millions, tens of millions, even some over a hundred million dollars because they get to share in the recovery of compensation that the government gets.
For those people who say, "An individual can't do anything, what am I going to do? I'm one person against a big corporation." In our first show we have a whistleblower who is personally responsible, just him, for his employer paying back the U.S. government over 500 million dollars. One person can make a big difference and I think that people are going to really enjoy seeing these heroes.
MW: This can even give people the motivation to step forward themselves.
MW: Why did you feel like now was the right time to make this show?
AF: This is a time in America where everybody is demanding accountability, whether it's the #MeToo movement or just social media in general - people get called out now for wrong doing whereas before people would just shrug and it would slide under the radar. I think this is the perfect time to showcase these individuals who have been doing this for so long. This is not a new concept, the whistleblower concept has been around since Abraham Lincoln - in fact the law that allows for compensation is referred to as Lincoln's Law.
Every year there are about 800 whistleblower cases brought. I think that the public sees other people who know of wrongdoing coming forward and calling out corporate greed. I don't care if you're a millennial or a baby boomer - nobody likes corporate greed, nobody likes companies stealing from all of us. It's going to lead to more people coming forward and doing the right thing. That has a cleansing effect on society, corporations aren't going to be able to continue to do this in darkness and hide their misdeeds. They're going to have to worry about who here in my company who knows what I'm doing is going to blow the whistle and that can have a very positive effect.
There's between about 100 and 300 billions dollars stolen yearly from the U.S. government, from all of us. I'd like to get that $300 billion and put it towards our national debt.
MW: I think most people would certainly be on board for that. Aside from recouping all that lost money - what do you want people to take away from this show?
AF: I would like for this show to have the effect of turning all of us into a national posse. When we know that there's theft and wrongdoing going on that we put a stop to it - that's moving the country in the right direction. For years I think we've been going in the opposite direction where we shrug our shoulders, we've heard about it before and we're like, "Oh well, more of the same." I think we can turn this around and when people see these whistleblowers and how they put everything on the line just to do the right thing, I think it's going to really encourage people to do the same. I think the least we can do is showcase the heroes that they are.
MW: Well thank you so much for talking to me today Alex and good luck with the show!
AF: Thanks, it was great talking to you.
MW: You too, take care!
Don't miss the premiere of Whistleblower this Friday, July 13th at 8/7 Central, only on CBS. Check your local listings for more information.
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