- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A former George Washington University scientist was sentenced yesterday to five months in federal prison for embezzling federal research funds to pay for country club expenses, a trip to Las Vegas and a friend’s bachelor party.

An attorney for scientist Paul G. Bedewi had requested home confinement for his client, but U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts rejected the request.

“These thefts were audacious,” Judge Roberts said in federal court, calling Bedewi and his cousin, Nabih Bedewi, “poster children for fraud, waste and abuse.”

Nabih Bedewi was sentenced last year to more than three years in prison for masterminding the embezzlement of nearly $1 million in federal transportation funds.

Paul Bedewi worked at George Washington University’s National Crash Analysis Center (NCAC), a federally funded transportation research group, from 2002 to 2004.

As an adjunct professor and as NCAC’s deputy director, he embezzled about $80,000 in research funds, including more than $35,000 in fraudulent graduate assistant stipends paid to his wife, who was not a student, prosecutors said.

His attorney, Steven C. Tabackman, yesterday sought leniency, saying that his client is a changed man.

“He’s hardworking, he’s sensitive … and he’s a guy that I’m prepared to step up for,” Mr. Tabackman said.

The defense attorney said his client has paid $80,000 in restitution and helped federal prosecutors investigate other instances of suspected fraud.

According to a court memo filed by Mr. Tabackman, Paul Bedewi came under the influence of his cousin Nabih.

Nabih Bedewi, a former engineering professor and former director of the crash center, was sentenced to 38 months in prison and ordered to pay more than $870,000 in restitution, court records show.

He had a “self-serving philosophy of personal entitlement [that stated] ‘we bring in the money, we work hard, we’re entitled to the rewards,’ ” Mr. Tabackman wrote.

“Paul Bedewi, awash in millions of dollars that was floating around the NCAC, found it all too easy to rationalize his conduct,” the defense attorney argued.

Paul Bedewi pleaded guilty in October 2005. He had faced a maximum of 10 years in prison, though sentencing guidelines called for a maximum of 16 months.

Judge Roberts also sentenced Bedewi yesterday to five months of home confinement with electronic monitoring upon his release from prison and two years of probation.

Last year, George Washington officials agreed to a $1.825 million settlement with the Justice Department to settle a federal False Claims Act investigation into the NCAC under Nabih Bedewi.

As part of the settlement, university officials did not admit any liability for the misconduct.

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