Scientist Settles Grant Fraud Allegations | USAO-SDTX
HOUSTON – A local scientist and his invention and technology company in southwest Houston have agreed to pay nearly $ 150,000 to resolve allegations they defrauded the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Navy, has announced US Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.
Dr Rouzbeh Shahsavari, 40, is the owner and chief scientist of C-Crete Technologies Ltd. in Stafford. Today he paid $ 147,589 to settle allegations that they violated the false claims law.
“Fraud targeting grants and loans for small business development has a disproportionate impact on the beneficiaries and the excluded,” said Patrick. “Some deserving and legitimate small businesses have missed it because this man lied. Now the taxpayer is right.”
Shahsavari and C-Crete allegedly made false statements to the NSF and the Navy in the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) and Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) scholarship applications in 2015 and 2016. The STTR and SBIR programs are very competitive federal programs. They are designed to encourage independent and national small businesses through the investment of federal funds to conduct research and development in areas that advance United States interests, including those relating to health, welfare and national defense. Only qualified small businesses that meet the strict requirements of the program are eligible for the awards.
Applicants for STTR and SBIR scholarships must nominate an employee as the principal investigator for the proposed research. Their qualifications and credentials are a key part of award decisions. Applicants for STTR scholarships must also have a sub-grant agreement with a collaborating research partner.
C-Crete and Shahsavari have indicated that they have the binding agreement with Rice University. However, the investigation found that was not the case. They also failed to inform Navy personnel that their lead investigator-in-charge had stopped working for C-Crete nearly three months before the award was awarded.
In both cases, C-Crete was not eligible, but still accepted the grant funds.
“It is imperative that federal award recipients provide true and accurate statements and certifications during all phases of the grant process,” said NSF Inspector General Allison Lerner. “The SBIR / STTR program is a valuable tool in advancing NSF’s mission to promote the advancement of science by increasing opportunities for innovative research by small businesses. It is essential to protect the integrity of this program.
NSF-Office of Inspector General and Naval Criminal Investigative Service conducted the coordinated investigation with assistance from the US Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Redlinger handled the case.
The complaints resolved by this settlement are only allegations. There was no determination of responsibility.