SALT LAKE CITY — The state of Utah may settle a lawsuit alleging public safety agencies bilked taxpayers out of millions of dollars.
A spokesman for Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes' office confirmed to FOX 13 they were negotiating a settlement, declining to comment further. Last year, federal authorities said in a court filing they were in talks about a possible settlement.
The lawsuit has its roots in a 2015 action brought by a Utah State Prison inmate. Reginald Williams said he uncovered evidence of grant fraud while working in the prison's print shop. He retained an attorney and began cooperating with federal authorities. Then the U.S. Department of Justice intervened in his legal action, leveling accusations of fraud against the state and a number of its top public safety officials.
The feds have alleged the Utah Attorney General's Office, the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, the Utah Administrative Office of the Courts and the Utah Department of Public Safety and public safety officials in the state falsely claimed job losses and budget cuts to get grant money from 2009 to 2015. The U.S. government has claimed in court filings the state got as much as $50 million, but the Utah Attorney General's Office has said the amount in question is about $10 million.
The lawsuit has been on hold. When FOX 13 inquired on Friday about why the state had yet to file an answer to the litigation, Utah Attorney General's Office spokesman Richard Piatt confirmed the settlement discussions.
Any settlement may have to ultimately involve the Utah State Legislature. If the amount is over $1 million, Utah law dictates the legislature must meet to approve it.