BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — Tuesday was judgment day for the Birmingham Jefferson County Transit Authority as a federal judge slapped the agency with a hefty $4.6 million judgment over false claims it had made. 

The lawsuit was first brought forward back in 2018 by former employee Starr Culpepper and former board Chair O. Tameka Wren. At issue was competitive bidding on the Birmingham Rapid Transit Project for what today is known as Birmingham Xpress.

A jury found that the BJCTA knowingly and repeatedly presented a false claim for payment to the Federal Transit Authority. 

By their own admission, Tuesday’s ruling exceeded even what they expected, but now, BJCTA CEO Charlotte Shaw said the task is in paying the settlement.

”We knew some level of the judgment was coming, so as a business woman and the leader of this organization it was very important that we prepare for the worst,” Shaw said.

Despite the shock of the size of the ruling, Shaw said she has a plan in place to move the organization past this dark cloud.

”We were expecting some level of this judgment, we anticipated it so we prepared provisions to be able to accommodate some level of this,” she said. “Of course, it’s a little higher than we anticipated but that just means we may shift some of our initiatives around but I assure you this will not impact our employees or riders.”

Michael Choy, the attorney who represented the BJCTA in the case, appealed to the judge to consider those most impacted by the ruling.

“We pleaded with the judge that he should be mindful of the fact that any monies paid are public monies, that will come from local tax dollars,” Choy said.

Nonetheless, Shaw is confident that the plan in place will take care of the judgment without impacting riders, adding that it’s finally time for all parties involved to move on.

“I’m somewhat relieved that we can finally put this chapter behind us,” she said. “The darkest days are behind us and the greatest days are before us.”

As for specifics of how the judgment will be paid, Shaw said it may mean delaying some new initiatives in order to free up the money needed to satisfy the judgment.