- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 7, 2007

Federal authorities are trying to seize a Montgomery County house as they investigate what happened to $1.2 million reported missing from the National Academy of Sciences in the District.

The investigation centers on whether an employee diverted funds from the government-funded nonprofit to a paper products company he owned.

Aubrey R. Scott of Germantown, now a former academy employee, has not been charged criminally.

Details of the investigation surfaced this week when the U.S. attorney’s office filed a civil complaint in federal court in the District to seize Mr. Scott’s home.

Mr. Scott managed the copy center at the academy. He was laid off in April 2006 because of downsizing, according to the complaint.

Investigators said Mr. Scott rented a post office box at the UPS store in the District that was used as the address for Paper Perfect Reproductions.

Mr. Scott is listed as the company’s president in corporate papers on file with the Delaware Secretary of State’s Office, according to forfeiture papers.

Prosecutors said Mr. Scott authorized $1.2 million in invoices that the academy paid to Paper Perfect Reproductions, using some of the money to pay down the mortgage on his home.

The U.S. attorney’s office wants to condemn the property on the basis that its purchase was made with “funds that are the proceeds of a specified unlawful activity,” according to the forfeiture complaint.

Mr. Scott was reviewing the complaint yesterday and declined to comment on the case.

“My side of the story hasn’t gotten out yet,” he said.

The National Academy of Sciences, created in 1863, is largely funded by government grants and contracts. It advises federal officials on science and technology issues.

The academy’s roughly 2,000 members, who include more than 200 Nobel laureates, are elected to lifetime appointments.

An academy spokesman said the organization is cooperating with the federal investigation.

“Information came to our attention indicating a possible theft, and we forwarded that to the U.S. attorney,” spokesman Bill Kearney said. He declined to comment further on the investigation.

Investigators said the academy wrote a total of 108 checks to Paper Perfect Reproductions from 2000 to 2006, though the company was not registered as a vendor with the organization. The last invoice found was approved on April 13, one day before Mr. Scott lost his job, according to the complaint.

Each of the invoices was for less than $2,500, which prevented the payments from surfacing during routine audits, according to the complaint.

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