DOJ sought dismissal of $3.3 Billion fraud suit against Dish network following Chairman’s $113K donation to Biden

by | Mar 25, 2024

The Justice Department has made an unusual move by seeking to dismiss a $3.3 billion civil fraud lawsuit against Dish Network. This action comes after Dish's founder, Charlie Ergen, and his spouse made significant donations totaling over $113,000 to Biden’s re-election campaign towards the end of last year.

Ergen played a pivotal role in the establishment of what was then known as EchoStar Communications in 1980, and has been entangled in the federal fraud claim for close to a decade.

Ergen’s luck took a turn shortly after he and his spouse made significant contributions to Biden’s super PAC, totaling $100,000, while they both made separate maximum donations of $6,600 to Biden’s principal campaign committee in December, as per campaign finance records.

In January of this year, Dish secured a $50 million grant from the administration to aid in the nationwide expansion of 5G coverage. The company boasted that this grant, obtained through a $1.5 billion fund established by the CHIPS and Science Act, was the “largest award” of its kind.

Following the announcement of the $50 million award on January 12, attorneys from the Justice Department intervened on behalf of Dish just two days later. Lead attorney Bennett Ross claimed that they attempted to pressure Vermont Telephone, the plaintiff in the fraud claim, into an “unethical settlement” by threatening to dismiss the lawsuit.

The decision to dismiss the case resulted in the cancellation of plans to depose the Ergens regarding their understanding of the purportedly fraudulent scheme. As a result, attorneys representing Vermont Telephone accused the Justice Department of engaging in political interference.

The government filed an official motion to dismiss on March 8, and a decision from senior DC US District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly is currently pending.

Court filings indicate that the DOJ's Civil Division had previously opposed the dismissal of the case in both 2022 and 2023. Interference in fraud claims of this nature is highly unusual.

Throughout Biden's presidency, Ergen has maintained a close relationship with the White House, frequently boasting about his connections and reportedly being seen entering and exiting FCC headquarters on numerous occasions.

White House visitor logs reveal that Ergen had at least three meetings with Biden officials. One notable encounter occurred on October 16, 2023, when he met with Kurt Campbell, who was then a deputy assistant to the president and currently holds the position of deputy secretary of state.

Earlier this month, Ergen was appointed to a presidential trade and investment mission to the Philippines. This decision came after the White House had announced a partnership with the nation over a year ago, aimed at expanding access to 5G coverage.

Source: The New York Post



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