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Pair of Professors Charged with Fraud in Getting Funding

We’ve already seen less-than-savory practices from a few scientists recently due to the tough funding environment in research these days, whether that’s altering research findings or faking them altogether for more impressive results. In the latest example of such unethical behavior, two professors from the University of Houston have been charged with wire fraud and making false statements in order to get $1.3 million in research grants from the U.S. government, according to the Houston Chronicle.

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Both physics professors, fifty-eight-year-old David Starikov and 57-year-old Abdelhak Bensaoula gave themselves up to the authorities Apr. 28. All of their charges involve the federal Small Business Innovation program, which they tapped to start their small business Integrated Micro Sensors Inc.

Starikov and Bensaoula face 21 counts of wire fraud, seven counts of making false statements, and one count of conspiracy. Apparently those false statements were made when applying for grants for their small business and in making electronic claims for payment following the receipt of contracts and grants, the Chronicle says.

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The pair was to make their first court appearance yesterday afternoon.

They could see up to 20 years for each conviction for wire fraud, five years for each conviction for making false statements, five years if convicted of conspiracy and a possible $250,000 fine for each charge.

-          With files from the Houston Chronicle