UF suspends professor after FBI searches his office


Dr. Samim Anghaie Professor and Director of the Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute (INSPI)

A University of Florida nuclear engineering professor and his family members had their property seized Wednesday in an investigation into allegations they used money from NASA contracts to buy multiple cars and homes.

Samim Anghaie is a Iranian-born professor who directs an institute that researches the use of nuclear power in space. He and his wife, Sousan, run a Gainesville-based company, New Era Technology, that conducts research for NASA. As of Wednesday, neither Anghaie nor his wife had been arrested, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tallahassee said.

UF suspended Samim Anghaie after the FBI searched his campus office Wednesday. A warrant alleges money from NASA was diverted from New Era into the accounts of Samim, Sousan and their sons, Ali and Hamid.

The alleged scheme "diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegally obtained government funds from their corporate bank account to their personal bank accounts," according to the warrant.

{josquote}As members of the Baha'i faith, Samim and Sousan Anghaie applied for asylum in the U.S. on the basis of Iran's persecution of members of the religion, according to immigration documents.{/josquote}

Since December 1999, New Era was awarded 13 government contracts with NASA, the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Department of Energy. The agencies deposited nearly $3.4 million into the company's account, according to the warrant.

The money was allegedly used to buy six vehicles ranging from a 2005 Toyota Sienna to 2009 Subaru and homes in Gainesville, Connecticut, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. Some money was used to buy stocks and the proceeds to buy land in Alachua County, the warrant alleges.

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