A former Tampa scientist was found guilty of wire fraud, defrauding government agencies including NASA, the U.S. Navy and the Missile Defense Agency.
Akbar Fard, 53, faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and his sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 24.
According to testimony and evidence presented at trial, he defrauded the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Missile Defense Agency, and the United States Navy out of approximately $2.1 million.
The SBIR/STTR programs support scientific excellence and technological innovation through the investment of federal research funds. The jury found that Fard thwarted the fundamental purpose of these programs by using the funds to support his lifestyle instead of purchasing research materials.
“The NASA Office of Inspector General will continue to aggressively investigate those who undermine and defraud NASA programs and operations,” said Special Agent in Charge John Corbett, Central Field Office. “This jury verdict serves as a staunch reminder that such conduct will not be tolerated. The NASA OIG applauds the efforts of the entire investigative and prosecution team during this multi-year investigation, and we look forward to our continued cooperation with our law enforcement partners in the pursuit of justice.”
This case was investigated by NASA’s Office of the Inspector General, the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas N. Palermo.