WASHINGTON, March 4 (UPI) -- A lawsuit filed by the United States against telecom giant Sprint alleges the company billed the government with false claims for services including wiretaps.
The lawsuit, which seeks $63 million and penalties, alleges Sprint Communications inflated its bills by 58 percent when it "knowingly submitted false claims to federal law enforcement agencies, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, U.S. Marshals Service, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and others, by including unallowable costs in their charges for carrying out court orders authorizing wiretaps, pen registers, and trap devices," Courthouse News Service reported Tuesday.
The suit cites a 2006 Federal Communications Commission ruling that said telecom companies "were prohibited from using their intercept charges to recover the costs of modifying equipment, facilities or services that were incurred to comply with" the Communications Assistance in Law Enforcement Act. The 1994 act required telecom carriers to ensure the government would be able, "pursuant to a court order, to intercept and deliver communications and call-identifying information."
"Despite the FCC's clear and unambiguous ruling, Sprint knowingly included in its intercept charges the costs of financing modifications to equipment, facilities, and services installed to comply with CALEA," the lawsuit alleges.