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Fri Mar 19, 2021, 08:42 PM

Former AT&T lawyer says company systemically overcharged neediest schools

Source: Washington Post

‘There has to be an accounting’: Former AT&T lawyer says company systemically overcharged neediest schools

Theodore Marcus left AT&T after he came to believe the telecom giant was ignoring the rules of E-Rate, a federal program that offers low-priced phone and Internet service to schools based on need

By Laura Meckler and Douglas MacMillan
March 18, 2021 at 9:30 a.m. EDT

Theodore Marcus once was an in-house lawyer for AT&T, tasked with reviewing whether the telecom giant was overcharging schools and libraries for Internet and telephone service.

Marcus came to believe that AT&T did not charge low prices required by law, misled the government about its compliance with the rules of a federal program and then rebuffed his concerns. A few months before he left AT&T, Marcus handed what he thought was damning information to a lawyer suing the company, with the expectation that he might share in the payout if the suit were victorious.

As a result, AT&T is now accusing Marcus of “shocking” legal misconduct and is trying to persuade a federal judge to dismiss a sweeping lawsuit because of it. The future of the case will depend, in part, on whether a federal court views Marcus as a whistleblower trying to right a wrong, or a corporate lawyer violating his duty to his former employer.

Marcus never locked in an agreement to benefit from the pending suits, which allege overcharging, and is not in line to share in any proceeds. But he is furious, saying AT&T abused a government program designed to help needy schools, and he is detailing his allegations publicly for the first time.

“There’s been no consequences for a bunch of folks … who failed to do what they were supposed to do for a program that’s supposed to take care of poor children,” he said in an interview with The Washington Post. “That’s what’s driving me. These are poor Black and Brown kids and they cannot fend for themselves and you have to do what’s right. There has to be an accounting.”

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2021/03/18/att-school-internet-pricing/

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