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Florida professor, wife accused of stealing money from NASA

  • Story Highlights
  • FBI raids office of Florida professor accused of taking money from NASA
  • Investigators: Samim Anghaie, family used money for personal gain
  • Anghaie has been placed on administrative leave with pay
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(CNN) -- Federal authorities raided the office of a University of Florida professor on Wednesday who, along with his wife, is suspected of defrauding NASA.

The FBI searched the school's Innovative Nuclear Space Power and Propulsion Institute, founded by Samim Anghaie, and his office on campus, said university spokesman Steve Orlando. Anghaie is a professor of radiological engineering.

FBI spokesman Jeff Westcott would only confirm the searches on campus, referring all questions to the U.S. attorney's office. Calls to the U.S. attorney's office were not returned Wednesday.

According to an affidavit filed February 19, investigators from the FBI and NASA said that since 1999, the government has awarded 13 contracts to the couple's company, New Era Technology Inc. (NETECH), and deposited $3.4 million into the company's corporate account. Investigators allege they diverted much of the money from the corporate account into personal accounts to buy cars and property.

According to NETECH's Web site, the company was established in 1988 as a research and development firm to perform "high-tech, cutting edge research." It boasts "a highly skilled staff of research scientists, engineers, and physicists" and lists NASA, the Department of Defense and the Department of Energy among its employers.

Anghaie's wife, Sousan, is president of NETECH, which is listed under the couple's residential address in Gainesville, according to court documents. The couple have two sons; Hamid, 28, and Ali, 31.

Since 2001, Hamid Anghaie, who lives in Tampa, has been director and vice president of the company. Before Hamid took over, his father had the post, according to court documents.

Ali Anghaie, who lives in Manchester, Connecticut, works for an aerospace firm, Pratt & Whitney, also listed among NETECH's employers.

Calls to the home of Samim and Sousan Anghaie were not immediately returned Wednesday.

Authorities said the Anghaies took advantage of two federal grant programs set up to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector and strengthen the role of small businesses.

Under the NETECH name, they "submitted multiple fraudulent certified contract proposals to NASA, in order to receive the maximum funding for proposed research contracts," according to court documents.

The couple allegedly submitted fraudulent invoices to reimburse payments to "alleged employees," which ultimately resulted in the government overpaying the company, the documents say.

The money was allegedly diverted to personal accounts through the intentional overpayment of employees, including Samim Anghaie, or the payments made to "illegitimate" employees, including the two sons, according to the documents.

Samim Anghaie, who has worked for the University of Florida for nearly 30 years, has been placed on administrative leave with pay, Orlando said.

CNN's Samira Simone and Shawn Nottingham contributed to this report.

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