Federal authorities filed suit Friday against Utah and Utah officials for fraudulently using federal grant money. The US is suing Utah officials working in criminal justice, juvenile services, internet crimes investigations and public safety.
The federal government claims breach of contract and that Utah violated the False Claims Act. The US Attorney alleges that Utah officials falsely claimed grant money to supposedly create criminal justice jobs but instead used the grant to replace state funds for already existing jobs.
US Attorney John Huber explained the officials’ actions:
As applicants for and recipients of federal money, the [officials and Utah] were required
to expressly certify that they would and did use this money in accordance with federal grant
program requirements. Instead of properly using the grant money they received, Defendants misused it by replacing rather than supplementing state money. In particular, Defendants used federal money to pay salaries of existing State employees and then did not, when required, immediately fill the vacated positions. This amounted to Defendants supplanting rather than supplementing their agency budgets in contravention of the grant requirements and certifications Defendants made to DOJ.
The US Department of Justice granted Utah millions of dollars through its Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, the JAG – American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Program and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force Continuation Program.
The programs focused on creating state and local criminal justice and law enforcement jobs through additional funding.