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Utah in talks to settle lawsuit alleging millions in grant fraud

Utah State Capitol
Posted at 1:46 PM, Jun 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-22 15:46:09-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah is apparently in talks to settle a lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in grant fraud involving public safety agencies.

That's according to a federal court filing obtained by FOX 13 on Monday.

The U.S. Department of Justice is suing Utah and some of its top public safety officials, accusing them of violating federal law and bilking the government out of millions in grant money by not following the requirements. In previous court filings, lawyers have claimed as much as $50 million in fraudulent grant money (the Utah Attorney General's Office insists the total dollar amount is closer to $10 million).

The case has its roots in a 2015 whistleblower lawsuit filed by an inmate at the Utah State Prison. Reginald Williams said he became aware of the alleged fraud while working in the prison print shop. He hired attorneys and cooperated with the feds, who took over the investigation.

The Utah Attorney General's Office and the feds had been feuding over documents related to the investigation when the U.S. Department of Justice leveled its lawsuit.

But in a new filing, the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah asked a judge to grant additional time to serve some of the defendants.

"Here, a permissive extension is warranted because the United States and the State of Utah... are actively engaged in settlement discussions, which have been slightly delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic," assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Steinvoort wrote, adding: "At this time, the Parties expect that they will be able to resume with substantive discussions by mid-July."