Two profs indicted in Georgia for fraud

The two allegedly drew paychecks from both Georgia Tech and the U.

by Luke Feuerherm

Two University of Minnesota professors were indicted Tuesday by a Georgia county grand jury for an alleged scheme to continue to receive payments from former employer Georgia Tech after starting work at the University.
Francois Sainfort and wife Julie Jacko of the UniversityâÄôs School of Public Health each are facing several counts of conspiracy to defraud, theft and false statements and writings.
According to the indictment, both agreed in August 2007 to begin working for the University starting in October of that year, Sainfort as head of the Division of Health Policy and Management in the School of Public Health, and Jacko as the director of the University Partnership for Health Informatics.
The couple, however, allegedly lied about their new employment to Georgia Tech officials and continued to accept several months of salary âÄî about $20,000 a month for Sainfort and $14,000 for Jacko.
âÄúSainfort and Jacko are extremely disappointed in Georgia TechâÄôs decision to frame this as a criminal matter,âÄù the coupleâÄôs attorney Martin Goldberg said. âÄúIn our view itâÄôs always been an administrative employment issue.âÄù
The indictment also alleges that the couple used Georgia Tech funds to pay for airfare to appear at a welcome reception at the University and to fly to North Carolina for an interview Sainfort had at Duke University.
The University disciplined the couple in December 2010, and they were required to reimburse the University $59,000 âÄî money the school had paid for its investigation and for fringe benefits like healthcare.
The School of Public Health deferred comment to University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg, who said the University will not hand out further punishment in response to allegations made in the indictment but said if additional facts come out during the case, the school reserved the right to take further action.
Jacko is a leader in the field of health informatics, the study of using computer-generated health care data for decision making. She still holds her position at the University.
Sainfort was the head of the Division of Health Policy and Management at the School of Public Health before the allegations came to light. He resigned from that position in September 2008 but is still employed by the University.
Georgia TechâÄôs audit department discovered the alleged activity back in 2008 while reviewing expense records, after which the school referred the case to the attorney general, as is standard practice.
âÄúThe way this matter was handled over the past three years by Georgia Tech sends a scary and chilling message to other successful professors and employees at that institution,âÄù Goldberg said in a press release Tuesday.
Robert Jacko, JulieâÄôs brother, was also indicted Tuesday on one count of conspiracy to defraud.
The indictment alleges he set up a bank account into which proceeds of the scheme could be deposited and from which the three could obtain money.
Robert Jacko also received payments for consultant work on health-related projects at Georgia Tech which he did not do, according to the indictment.
âÄúThere is absolutely no criminal intent,âÄù Martin said. âÄúWe are looking forward to addressing that in court.âÄù
A trial date has not been set, but if found guilty on all counts, Sainfort could face up to 165 years imprisonment and a fine of about $1 million. Jacko could face up to 115 years imprisonment and a fine of about $900,000, according to the office of the Georgia Attorney General.
Robert Jacko is facing a single count and could face up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $100,000.