When you turn out to have been providing a home to swindlers for thirteen years, you should probably use the discovery as a teachable moment.

UD isn’t saying there’s anything truly newsworthy in the story of two physicists on the University of Houston faculty who set up a bogus business and then lied on hundreds of federal grant applications in order to steal over a million dollars for themselves. As you know if you read this blog with any regularity, engineering professors dominate the lying on federal grant applications on behalf of bogus businesses market; but this doesn’t mean there’s no competition from others in the hard sciences. Like these guys.

The indictment describes how Bensaoula and Starikov, on behalf of their company, used false and fraudulent letters of support and made false claims about facilities, equipment and materials. In one instance, Starikov is accused of submitting a letter of support from Solex Robotics Systems, which the Houston-based company didn’t know about, to the National Science Foundation for a $499,995 grant. Other letters of support were altered and submitted with cut-and-pasted signatures from the originals, the indictment says.

In other applications, the two listed hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of costs that they “well knew Integrated Micro Sensors Inc. would not incur,” according to the indictment.

When applying for funding from NASA and the U.S. Air Force, the two included costs for non-existent subcontracts with UH, according to the indictment, which also alleges the two stated in proposals that their company would pay a required subcontract fee to UH, but failed to do so on four of five contracts.

As Elvis put it, Just Pretend.

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One Response to “Houston, We Have a Problem.”

  1. charlie Says:

    This isn’t surprising. The amount of FED money allocated for physics research has been substantially cut over the past decade. Along with that gen, a glut of STEM pros reside in this here country. Quite a number of my former physics classmates, that went on to get their PH.d’s, failed to get appointments, much less tenure. And they had to compete with imported physics PH.d’s, meaning that they were forced to meaningfully lower their expectations. What occurred at U of Houston is probably far more prevalent than many in the STEM field are willing to admit….

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