Indian-American professor has been convicted by a federal grand jury of
defrauding the US government and students of $700,000 in research
Manoj Jha, a full-time professor at the Morgan State
University in Baltimore, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison
for each of four counts of wire fraud, and for one count each of mail
fraud and falsification of records; and 10 years in prison for theft of
46, has been found guilty of fraudulently obtaining $200,000 in grant
funds from NSF’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programme to
fund a highway project, and attempting to obtain another $500,000 via
the same project.
Federal prosecutors alleged Jha converted the
funds to his personal use; Jha made payments on his mortgage and
personal credit card and authorised approximately $11,000 in salary
payments to his wife, who performed no NSF-related work.
According to Justice Department, Jha incorporated Amar Transportation
Research and Consulting Inc (ATRC), and was its president and only
director. Trial evidence showed that Jha submitted funding proposals on behalf of ATRC to the STTR.
The stated purpose of Jha’s proposed project was to enhance current
models used by highway planners to optimise horizontal and vertical
highway routes, and ultimately, to commercialise the result.