For seven years, a Wisconsin telecom consultant has waged an unsuccessful legal fight against AT&T, alleging that the company long defrauded a federal program by overcharging the nation’s schools and libraries for Internet and telephone services.
Now an appeals court in the District of Columbia has given new life to his case.
The little-noticed June 23 ruling concluded that the complaint by Todd Heath was properly filed under the U.S. False Claims Act – a decision that could lead to the disclosure of AT&T’s internal records about the federal program known as E-Rate.
At issue in the court case is a rule established at the program’s inception that requires providers to set rates for schools and libraries at the lowest prices offered to comparable customers. The theory was that bargain rates would help schools in less-wealthy areas provide their students with access to the Web.
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