CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey filed documents Friday to enhance West Virginia’s chance of recouping nearly $5 million in ongoing fraud litigation involving Frontier Communications, according to a news release from the AG’s office.
The case involves alleged fraud in the spending of federal stimulus funds awarded to West Virginia in 2010 to expand broadband internet, the release said.
Federal regulators already required the state to repay more than $4.9 million associated with the case.
“The attorney general’s motion takes no position as to the claims against Frontier,” the release said. “Instead, it seeks to position West Virginia to recoup its $4.9 million payout if a federal court were to find that Frontier’s conduct violated the False Claims Act.”
“We must act now to assert our claim and protect West Virginia’s interest,” Morrisey said in the release. “It is only right that West Virginia be made whole and another entity bear the costs if it is proven that entity engaged in fraud. Anything less would amount to the federal government receiving double payment for the same underlying costs.”
Federal regulators, in allegations similar to the much broader litigation, required West Virginia to repay more than $4.7 million related to select charges and specific invoice processing fees set forth by Frontier, along with $244,200 linked to Frontier’s alleged deployment of 37 miles of excess fiber optic cable.
The federal government argued those alleged actions violated the terms of the stimulus grant.
The ongoing litigation stems from a broader complaint filed by Frontier’s competitor, Citynet.
It seeks repayment by Frontier on behalf of the federal government.
West Virginia, the grant recipient, unsuccessfully appealed the federal government’s decision to seek repayment from state coffers. Frontier was the subrecipient of the grant.
In the release, Morrisey argues no existing party in the ongoing case represents West Virginia’s interest. He also contends not permitting West Virginia to intervene would substantially impair the state’s ability to protect its interest.