New York residents may have heard that a married couple was convicted of defrauding NASA on Nov. 20. The accused individuals are a 53-year-old engineering professor at Lehigh University and his wife, a 41-year-old doctor of physics. The pair owns a startup company called ArkLight that was allegedly used to commit fraud.
According to prosecutors, the couple's company was put in charge of a $700,000 project for NASA. The couple allegedly told NASA that ArkLight would develop a sensor that could track climate change, and the work would be done at the husband's laboratory at Lehigh University. Although the wife was supposed to be in charge of the project, graduate students and research fellows who were working on the project never saw her at the laboratory.
Prosecutors say that the husband did not disclose his role in ArkLight to Lehigh University, and the company was simply a 'front." At a court hearing, the wife testified that she did complete work on the project at home, but her social anxieties kept her away from the lab. After deliberating for two days, a jury found the couple guilty of six counts of fraud. Each of the accused could face 20 years behind bars when they are sentenced on March 2.
Convicting a person for white-collar crimes is often very difficult, as the evidence can be elusive and technical. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help a person who is being charged with these types of crimes to dispute the charges by arguing that the defendant's unlawful actions were not intentional.
Source: NBC New York, "Professor, Wife Convicted of Fraud in $700,000 NASA Contract," Nov. 21, 2015