Former NSF director pleads guilty to fraud

Michael P. Tremoglie Jun. 1, 2012, 7:37am

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - A former program director at the National Science Foundation pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Virginia to concealing illicit gifts and fraudulent payments he received, the Department of Justice announced.

Dr. Shih Chi Liu, 73, of Silver Spring, Md., pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge James C. Cacheris. According to a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Liu served in various program director positions in the NSF Engineering Directorate from 1981 until December 2011. The NSF is an independent federal agency whose mission is to fund research and education in science and engineering disciplines.

Liu was required to submit a yearly financial disclosure report detailing travel-related reimbursements and gifts totaling more than a specified amount. He allegedly filed false reports that failed to report payments and gifts he had received in the years 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

According to DOJ, he concealed that he had arranged for an accredited university to pay false invoices for services that the university did not receive, pocketing the fraudulently obtained money himself. He also concealed that he had received money for international travel from an accredited university, at times simultaneously requesting and receiving reimbursements from NSF for that same travel.

Liu could receive a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000 when he is sentenced on Aug. 22, 2012.

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