U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announced that U.S. District Judge John W. deGravelles sentenced Parviz Sharifrazi, 70, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to 24 months in federal prison following his convictions for postal fraud and money laundering. The court further ordered Sharifrazi to serve one year of probation following his prison sentence.
Today’s conviction stems from a federal criminal investigation that began years ago. In 2008 and 2009, Sharifrazi worked as an associate professor at the University of the South (“Southern”) and tried to raise funds for an independent business venture in Iran. Beginning in 2008, he and a co-defendant, who worked as a director of information technology (IT) at Southern’s College of Engineering, devised a scheme to defraud Southern by submitting fraudulent equipment quotes on behalf of fictitious suppliers and by forcing Southern to endorse the quotes, while concealing their involvement in the scheme.
As part of this scheme, Sharifrazi’s co-accused would create fraudulent purchase requisitions for computer equipment, generate fraudulent quotes for the equipment on behalf of shell companies he and Sharifrazi had created, and then submit the fraudulent quotes to the service. purchases from Southern and would make them Must be approved. Meanwhile, Sharifrazi got others to sign up for mail forwarding services at private mail facilities in Las Vegas, Nevada, Beaverton, Oregon, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Sharifrazi used those boxes at letters to deceive Southern. Through their use of shell companies, out-of-state mailing addresses and other means, Sharifrazi and his co-accused were able to conceal the fraudulent nature of the purchase requests and quotes and hide the fact that they were profiting from the stratagem. .
Between April and November 2008, Sharifrazi and his co-defendant forced Southern to issue 14 checks totaling over $150,000 to their shell companies and mail the checks to outside mailboxes they had opened. Then, as the defendants took control of the funds, Sharifrazi carried out additional monetary transactions and laundered the proceeds of the scheme, such as transferring the proceeds of the scheme to a bank account other than himself and a family member. on behalf of a Denham Restaurant des Sources.
Sharifrazi was charged in 2011. By then he had left the South and was living in Iran. After being contacted by federal law enforcement agents and knowing that the court had issued a warrant for his arrest, the defendant had been a fugitive for more than a decade, living in Iran for many years , then settling in Turkey. In mid-2021, the accused met with Federal Bureau of Investigation agents in Turkey and agreed to return to the United States to accept responsibility for his crimes. Earlier this year, Sharifrazi pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering and admitted involvement in the fraudulent scheme described above.
Sharifrazi’s co-defendant pleaded guilty in 2010 and fully served his sentence, which included both jail time and a restitution order at Southern University.
US Attorney Gathe said, “This lawsuit demonstrates that neither time nor distance will deter the federal government and our partners from seeking justice. I want to thank our prosecutors and federal and state law enforcement agencies who made this outcome possible.
“This conviction demonstrates the tireless work of the FBI and our partners to bring to justice individuals like former Southern University professor Parviz Sharifraz, who engaged in fraudulent schemes that had a blatant impact on the ‘University of the South,’ said FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams, Jr. of the Office of the Inspector General of Louisiana and the Office of the Inspector General of the United States Department of Education for their collaborative efforts to identify, investigate, and bring to justice criminals who seek to harm American universities through fraud and deception.
“Today’s sentencing exemplifies patience and the long arm of the law in its pursuit of financial fraud and money laundering violations,” said James E. Dorsey, Special Agent in Charge of the United Nations Field Office. Atlanta from the IRS-CI. “Mr. Parviz Shafrazi perpetuated an elaborate plan motivated by his insatiable greed and blatant disregard for the enormous damage inflicted on Southern University and its students. Rest assured that IRS Criminal Investigation, in conjunction with our federal partners, will hold those who engage in similar behavior fully responsible.
Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street commented, “Justice for Mr. Sharifrazi has been delayed for more than a decade because of his deliberate choice to stay out of the country rather than face the music of his crimes. Today’s sentencing finally brings closure and the consequences of a carefully crafted criminal scheme to defraud the higher education institution at which Mr Sharifrazi was employed. Hopefully this also sends the message that the wheels of justice can sometimes turn slowly, but they do turn. No matter how long it takes, the Louisiana OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to relentlessly pursue public corruption in all its forms. Street added, “I want to congratulate U.S. Attorney Ron Gathe and his staff, and our partners at the FBI, IRS, and Department of Education OIG on another successful outcome.”
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Louisiana Office of Inspector General, and the US Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General, with essential assistance from the US Marshal’s Service. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Alan A. Stevens, who is also senior litigation counsel for the United States Attorney’s Office.