Posted on behalf of Roberta Kwok
US federal authorities have accused a scientist and his family of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from NASA to buy cars and real estate.
The US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) searched the office of Samim Anghaie, a professor of radiological engineering at the University of Florida in Gainesville, on Wednesday. University spokesman Steve Orlando said the FBI also searched the school’s Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute, which Anghaie founded (CNN). The university has put Anghaie on leave without pay (Orlando Sentinel).
A research company founded by Anghaie and his family, called New Era Technology or NETECH, allegedly submitted fraudulent proposals and invoices to NASA, according to court documents. Anghaie’s wife, Sousan Anghaie, is president of the company. Court documents say that NETECH has won 13 government contracts since 1999 and has received almost $3.4 million from NASA, the Air Force, and the Department of Energy (AP).
Investigators allege that hundreds of thousands of dollars was funneled from NETECH’s corporate account into the Anghaies’ personal bank accounts and used to buy six vehicles, as well as property in Gainesville, Connecticut, Fort Lauderdale, and Tampa (Gainesville Sun). Authorities have warrants to seize the family’s cars, bank accounts, and real estate. Anghaie and his wife have not been arrested, the US Attorney’s office in Tallahassee said Wednesday.
Anghaie earned his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Pennsylvania State University and has worked at the University of Florida for nearly 30 years. He has served on advisory boards and panels for NASA, the National Research Council, the US Department of Energy, and the US Department of Defense (Chronicle of Higher Education news blog). Anghaie currently has two NASA grants at the University of Florida to study nuclear-powered space travel.