NASA, FBI Accuse UF Professor, Family of Fraud

NASA, FBI Accuse UF Professor, Family of Fraud
University of Florida professor Sammy Anghaie. (Image credit: University of Florida.)

CAPE CANAVERAL — Federalinvestigators allege a University of Florida professor and three of his familymembers fraudulently received millions of dollars from NASA and then funneledmoney to personal bank accounts, court documents show.

The University of Floridaon Wednesday placed professor Samim Anghaie, director of the university's InnovativeNuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute, on administrative leave withpay, following an FBI raid at his university office.

"We're cooperatingwith their investigation," university spokesman Steve Orlando said.

According to courtdocuments, the 59-year-old Anghaie and his family members set up a companycalled New Era Technology, which was known as NETECH. His wife, Sousan Anghaie,was president.

The documents say NETECHsubmitted fraudulent proposals to NASA for proposed research contracts. As aresult, NETECH received several NASA contracts.

NETCH also is accused ofsubmitting fraudulent invoices to NASA that represented hours worked by allegedemployees.

Investigators say Anghaieand his wife diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegally obtainedgovernment funds from their corporate bank account to personal accounts.

The government says somemoney was diverted to sons Ali and Hamid Anghaie.

Court documents say thatsince 1999, NETECH was awarded 13 contracts from the government, and NETECH'sbank records show NASA, the Air Force and the Department of Energy depositednearly $3.4 million into the corporate account since 2000.

The documents say the moneywas used to pay for cars and real estate.

The federal governmentfiled the documents as part of a motion seeking to seize six cars, six piecesof real estate in Fort Lauderdale, Gainesville, Manchester, Conn., and Tampa,and several bank accounts.

Anghaie and his family havenot been arrested or charged and it is not known if they have an attorney.

A woman who answered a callto a number listed in Anghaie's name said she had no comment.

NASA's Office of theInspector General also refused to comment.

Anghaie first joined UF'sfaculty in October 1980, and since then had some breaks in employment. He earnsabout $111,000 and has no record of disciplinary action, according to hispersonnel file.

Anghaie has worked on atleast one project connected to Kennedy Space Center, as one of 43 UF facultymembers who participated in a five-year, $10 million NASA grant to conducthydrogen research in collaboration with KSC and NASA's Glenn Research Center inCleveland.

He completed a project onhydrogen production, a topic of interest at KSC, where hydrogen is stored as fuelfor the space shuttle.

In 1997, a UF press releasetouted Anghaie's interest in shortening the nearly two-year trip required for amannedmission to Mars by developing fuels for a nuclear thermal propulsionrocket.

Anghaie has been chairmanof the faculty council and director of the College of Engineering AcademicPersonnel Board. He was also on the faculty at Oregon State University.

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