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Alleged BTOP/NTIA Fraud - $25M lawsuit filed over BTOP/NTIA funds in Florida
From: Himilean Media <himileanmedia () gmail com>
Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2013 21:56:55 -0700

Wondering if this lawsuit has or will  potentially affect any other NANOG

My understanding is that anyone that was counting (planning) on this
infrastructure in rural Florida for middle-mile or long-haul transport
should now seek alternative options?


On Thu, Apr 25, 2013 at 9:52 PM, FierceTelecom wrote:

Rapid Systems Seeks $25 Million From FRBA With Lawsuit Filing

Tampa, Florida based Rapid Systems, Inc. announced April 19 it filed a $25
Million suit against the Florida Rural Broadband Alliance (FRBA) along with
several co-defendants.

Rapid Systems is a wireless broadband Internet service provider that
entered an agreement with FRBA and others to provide broadband network
support for a project developed with Broadband Opportunities Grants awarded
in Florida as part of a government economic stimulus program. The grant
totaled $23 Million. Rapid Systems allege in the complaint that after
providing the agreed services, equipment and in-kind contributions totaling
$2 Million, the FRBA and several co-defendants failed to pay Rapid Systems
for any of the services or expenses rendered under the agreement. Rapid
Systems is seeking to recover not only its own investment but also fees,
costs and lost revenue as a result of FRBA's actions.

The grant money FRBA received is intended to develop the infrastructure
needed for wireless Internet service in rural Florida counties. The program
is intended to bridge the gap between large public service providers and
small and often poor rural communities without the economic impact to
attract private investment for wireless broadband connectivity networks.

A similar program was already funded as the North Florida Broadband
Authority and has seen similar litigation and various towns and counties
pulling out of the program. After three years and over $28 Million federal
dollars invested in the NFBA, there are a confirmed 60 customers using the
services. Both the NFBA and RFBA are currently under federal investigation.
Questions of mismanagement, fraud, misinformation and misappropriating
funds have dogged the grant recipients almost since their inception early
in the Obama administration’s economic recovery efforts.

Rapid Systems has also included some public official in its complaint
alleging a coordinated effort with the FRBA to defame the plaintiff in an
effort to justify not paying the outstanding balances. The lawsuit filed in
Hardee County Circuit Court details a complicated “fraud scheme”
perpetrated by FRBA’s management to keep from paying out various invoices
and accounts. Rapid Systems has told the court all contracted work was
performed to agreed standards and payment is now due.

There was no immediate word from the court or federal authorities if the
Rapid Systems suit will, in any way, affect the ongoing investigation into
the FRBA or NFBA. Also, federal authorities have offered no confirmed time
frame for completing their investigation. Whether the federal investigation
could impact Rapid Systems and their alleged claims remains unclear.

Source Lawsuit:


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