NYC Criminal Defense Attorney Explains Grant Fraud & Scientific Research Fraud
The University of Florida paid $20 million in 2015 to settle allegations of grant and scientific research fraud. The claims against the University alleged improper charges of salary and administrative costs to the Department of Health and Human Services. The University had been provided with funds for medical research, but monies were allegedly paid to employees without documenting the contributions to the research made by those workers. The Washington Post reports reimbursement was also sought for supplies and equipment which should not have been covered by grant money.
The federal government gives billions of dollars of grant money each year to public universities, scientists, and other public and private sector workers for the purpose of furthering scientific advancement. Association of American Universities reports that government grants provided approximately $33 billion of the $55 billion in annual research spending by universities throughout the country.
The University of Florida is not the only institution to be accused of government grant fraud. Cases arise every year, with a wide variety of individuals and organizations implicated in alleged wrongdoing. If you or your organization is accused of any type of fraud, the consequences of these accusations could be devastating. You need to begin developing an effective defense immediately. Bukh Law Firm, PLLC has the experience necessary to defend clients in complex criminal and civil cases arising out of allegations of federal grant fraud. Give us a call as soon as an accusation is made against you so we can provide you with help in fighting the allegations.
What is Federal Grant Fraud?
Federal grant fraud can occur in grant applications, or when performing work which a government grand is funding. Making any false statements, providing false documentation, or omitting material facts are all considered types of grant grant fraud. Common types of grant fraud include:
- Falsifying grant applications to improperly secure grants.
- Falsifying data obtained as part of research funded by the government.
- Falsifying results of government-supported scientific studies.
- Falsifying purchase orders for materials or for equipment.
- Using grant money for purposes other than what the money was provided for, including personal expenses or even unrelated research.
- Undisclosed and improper conflicts of interest in connection with scientific research or with any federal grant applications.
- Falsifying progress reports.
- Falsifying any documentation in connection with government-supported research.
- Failure to comply with government safety requirements.
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In these and other situations, all parties who are involved in the fraud can potentially be charged with a crime or can be named as a defendant in a civil case.
Penalties for Federal Grant Fraud
Federal grant fraud may be considered a violation of the False Claims Act. The False Claims Act allows for civil litigation to recover monies paid out as a result of fraud. A U.S. Attorney General may bring a case, or private individuals like whistleblowers, can file a qui tam lawsuit.
Whistleblowers are encouraged to come forward by promises they will receive up to 30 percent of the money the government can recover through a False Claims Act civil case. The monetary penalties in FCA cases are very significant, as defendants who are found to have committed fraud can be assessed mandatory minimum penalties of triple the amount of money obtained through the fraud, as well as up to $11,000 in mandatory penalties for each act of fraud against the government.
The False Claims Act can cause financial devastation, but is not the only possible penalty for federal grant fraud. Those who cause material misstatements to be made to the government can also face a variety of criminal charges, including charges under 18 U.S. Code Section 1001, which imposes a sentence of five years for each falsehood submitted to any branch of the government.
How a NYC Criminal Attorney Can Help Those Accused of Grant Fraud
The qualification process for obtaining government grants, and the process of determining appropriate spending of grant funds, is very complicated. For an accusation of fraud to be successful, it must be proved that the defendant intentionally and knowingly committed fraud, or was grossly negligent in determining if fraud was occurring.
A NYC criminal defense lawyer can help defendants to try to fight criminal charges and civil cases arising out of allegations of grant fraud. Call Bukh Law Firm, PLLC to learn more about how a skilled legal professional can offer the help you need in responding to serious charges.