U.S. agency pays Alan Gross in contract settlement

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — The U.S. Agency for International Development reportedly has paid Alan Gross as much as $3.2 million as part of a settlement of his original contract to connect Cuba’s Jewish community to the internet.

USAID received the money as part of a settlement with Gross’ employer, Development Alternatives, Inc., a Maryland-based contractor, to resolve claims pending before the Civilian Board of Contract Appeals under a cost-reimbursement contract.

“The settlement, agreed in principle in November, calls for payment by USAID for unanticipated claims under the cost-reimbursement contract, including claims related to Mr. Alan Gross. The settlement avoids the cost, delay and risks of further proceedings, and does not constitute an admission of liability by either party,” USAID said in a statement released Tuesday.

The settlement reportedly is not connected to Gross’ release from jail in Cuba on Dec. 17, as part of sweeping changes in Cuba-U.S. ties, including a return to full diplomatic relations.

Gross, 65, a Jewish-American contractor, was arrested in 2009 after setting up Internet access for the Cuban Jewish community while working as a contractor for the USAID. Prior to his release, he marked the completion of his fifth year in prison; he had received a 15-year sentence.

Gross, of Potomac, Md., reportedly is in ill health. He lost more than 100 pounds during his incarceration and has suffered from painful arthritis.

Gross and his wife, Judy, filed a lawsuit in November 2012 against the U.S. government and Development Alternatives, Inc., charging that Gross should have been better trained and informed of the risks before going to Cuba to set up Internet access for the Jewish community there.

The Grosses settled in mid-May with Development Alternatives Inc. for an undisclosed amount.  A federal judge dismissed the Grosses’ $60 million lawsuit in May 2013, and it was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in November. The courts said the government cannot be sued for injuries that occurred in another country.