CAPE CANAVERAL — Federal investigators allege a University of Florida professor and three of his family members fraudulently received millions of dollars from NASA and then funneled money to personal bank accounts, court documents show.
The University of Florida on Wednesday placed professor Samim Anghaie, director of the university's Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute, on administrative leave with pay, following an FBI raid at his university office.
"We're cooperating with their investigation," university spokesman Steve Orlando said.
According to court documents, the 59-year-old Anghaie and his family members set up a company called New Era Technology, which was known as NETECH. His wife, Sousan Anghaie, was president.
The documents say NETECH submitted fraudulent proposals to NASA for proposed research contracts. As a result, NETECH received several NASA contracts.
NETCH also is accused of submitting fraudulent invoices to NASA that represented hours worked by alleged employees.
Investigators say Anghaie and his wife diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegally obtained government funds from their corporate bank account to personal accounts.
The government says some money was diverted to sons Ali and Hamid Anghaie.
Court documents say that since 1999, NETECH was awarded 13 contracts from the government, and NETECH's bank records show NASA, the Air Force and the Department of Energy deposited nearly $3.4 million into the corporate account since 2000.
The documents say the money was used to pay for cars and real estate.
The federal government filed the documents as part of a motion seeking to seize six cars, six pieces of real estate in Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Manchester, Conn., and Tampa, and several bank accounts.
Anghaie and his family have not been arrested or charged and it is not known if they have an attorney.
A woman who answered a call to a number listed in Anghaie's name said she had no comment.
NASA's Office of the Inspector General also refused to comment.
Anghaie first joined UF's faculty in October 1980, and since then had some breaks in employment. He earns about $111,000 and has no record of disciplinary action, according to his personnel file.
Anghaie has worked on at least one project connected to Kennedy Space Center, as one of 43 UF faculty members who participated in a five-year, $10 million NASA grant to conduct hydrogen research in collaboration with KSC and NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
He completed a project on hydrogen production, a topic of interest at KSC, where hydrogen is stored as fuel for the space shuttle.
In 1997, a UF press release touted Anghaie's interest in shortening the nearly two-year trip required for a manned mission to Mars by developing fuels for a nuclear thermal propulsion rocket.
Anghaie has been chairman of the faculty council and director of the College of Engineering Academic Personnel Board. He was also on the faculty at Oregon State University.
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