A University of Florida (UF) professor and his family are under investigation for allegedly falsifying information and funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars from contracts for NASA and other federal agencies into their personal accounts.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) yesterday searched the office of Samim Anghaie, 59, who directs UF's Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute in Gainesville, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Stinson in Tallahassee planned to seize several of the Anghaie family's vehicles, bank accounts and real-estate properties, the Orlando Sentinel reports.
The federal probe, which also includes NASA's Office of Inspector General, centers on a company called New Era Technology, Inc. (NETECH), where Prof. Anghaie's wife Sousan, 54, serves as president. (Prof. Anghaie has reportedly also held top posts at NETECH.) According to an affidavit filed last week, NETECH has received $3.4 million from the federal government, including about $2.5 million from NASA, since 1999, including a recent contract to develop uranium fuels, the Sentinel notes. Investigators allege that the Anghaies falsified contract proposals and invoices to maximize payouts from federal agencies, and then transferred the illicit monies into personal accounts for themselves and their two sons, ages 28 and 31.
UF spokesperson Steve Orlando told news agencies that Prof. Anghaie, a nuclear and radiological engineer who has worked at the university for nearly three decades, was placed on paid leave Wednesday pending completion of the investigation.