- Associated Press - Monday, June 16, 2014

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - A Yale University employee has been charged with operating a kickback scheme involving tens of thousands of dollars while working at the university, federal prosecutors said Monday.

George Dobuzinsky, 57, of Durham was charged with conspiracy and fraud offenses, the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

Between 2005 and 2013, prosecutors said Dobuzinsky used his position as a project manager to arrange to receive tens of thousands of dollars in kickback payments from vendors in exchange for awarding them additional audio/visual work. Authorities alleged he also requested and received gifts from vendors, including steakhouse gift certificates and electronic equipment for personal use.

Dobuzinsky pleaded not guilty in Bridgeport and was released on a $300,000 bond.

“Mr. Dobuzinsky did not steal anything from Yale,” said his attorney, Norm Pattis. “He worked harder than any two other employees in his unit.”

Pattis said he was surprised that the government prosecuted the case. He said the amount in question is about $122,000 and said authorities normally aim for larger targets.

“Yale has a lot of clout and I guess Justice Department is going to carry its water,” Pattis said.

The U.S. Attorney’s office declined comment on Pattis’ remarks.

Dobuzinsky initially directed the vendors to make kickback payments to him in the form of checks payable to an entity owned by his friend, who later provided the money to Dobuzinsky, prosecutors said. Later in the scheme, they say, he directed an individual to start a limited liability corporation to which vendors could direct their kickback payments and the individual and Dobuzinsky would spend the money on household expenses.

The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Dobuzinsky is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and three counts of honest services wire fraud. Each charge carries up to 20 years in prison.

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