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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: http://cdn.l2net.com/dl/BTOP_NTIA_FRBA_Lawsuit_KraigBeahnCopy_FSReduced.pdf