Ga. Tech Professor Roozbeh Kangari Retires Amid Theft Accusations
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ATLANTA -- A Georgia Tech professor has decided to retire after an internal audit accused him of stealing thousands of dollars worth of school money.
Dr. Roozbeh Kangari was a professor in Georgia Tech's College of Architecture and once headed up the school's building construction program.
School rules allowed Kangari to travel for business purposes and even to wine and dine donors and business contacts. But according to a 114-page audit, Kangari got reimbursed for more than $10,000 worth of trips to Las Vegas and Los Angeles where he and his family visited tourist attractions. The auditor called them "thinly veiled family vacations with no verifiable business purpose."
"It's our tax money, it's our own money and he shouldn't be doing this. It's not very responsible," said Tech student Gabriel Sleiman.
A school representative released a statement saying, "Georgia Tech has a very thorough auditing and compliance process in place designed to monitor and identify policy violations."
Auditors did a thorough investigation after getting a tip about Kangari's expenses. They also found several "inappropriate purchases" on his P-card, including nearly $1,000 worth of textbooks, which matched his daughter's class schedule, sent to him via email. He also bought nearly $4,000 worth of electronics, including a pink iPod Shuffle.
"I'm surprised that it took a long time to catch him, because they should do more monitoring about it, because, of course, we pay the money and they should control it," said Tech student Aneece Khalek.
Investigators reviewed hundreds of personal photos on Kangari's computer, matching the time and date stamps with receipts he submitted. They found "he was not even present at some of the events for which he requested reimbursement." At some he said he sent his wife in his place. The audit also said Kangari falsified timesheets for an employee, costing the school an additional $1,800.
"It's kind of mad because they're making a lot of money, they're well-educated people and they're not showing a good image for the school," said Sleiman.
The auditor recommended the school have Kangari pay back some of the money, but so far that has not happened. Kangari voluntarily retired on May 17.
In a phone conversation in February, Kangari denied the allegations, saying it was all a big misunderstanding and that he did nothing wrong.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation just finished a criminal investigation, and the attorney general's office will now decide whether to file criminal charges.