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Federal judge dismisses fraud charges against visiting professor

  • Birdsall Obear

The term "fraud" covers a wide range of acts, and so federal fraud charges can come up in a very wide range of cases, including cases involving accusations of identity theft, securities fraud, tax evasion and more.

In a recent case, a federal judge dismissed fraud charges against an Iranian scientist who was accused of industrial espionage.

The man, a professor who works in metallurgical science, came to the United States on a tourist visa in 2012 but worked at a laboratory that was developing corrosion-resistant steel. Upon leaving the United States the next year, he signed an agreement that he would not disclose information about the project. However, prosecutors said he began sending technical information about the project to students in Iran even before he left the project. Later, some of this information appeared in a proposal for a new petrochemical industry project in Iran. The proposal noted that it used information that had previously been available only to American industry. The professor said he did nothing improper. 

After a jury was seated and witnesses testified for three days, a federal judge dismissed the charges, finding that the prosecution's evidence was insufficient to prove their case. Twice before in this case, the judge has issued rulings against the prosecution, only to have his rulings overturned on appeal. 

This case is unusual in many respects, but it helps illustrate some important points that are common to many federal fraud charges cases

Fraud consists of a false statement, misrepresentation or deceitful conduct that induces another party to hand over a thing of value. The thing of value is usually money, but it can also be something else, like a trade secret or other piece of intellectual property. Many fraud cases involve highly technical evidence, and require careful work by both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

A defense attorney with experience in federal fraud charges cases can help people who have been accused to understand their legal options and begin to build a strategy to defend their futures.

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