CU engineering prof admits to mail fraud

DENVER – A mechanical engineering professor at the University of Colorado Boulder has pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with a case to defraud the U.S. government.

Oleg Viktorovich Vasilyev, 50, of Boulder appeared before U.S. District Judge William J. Martinez this week and pleaded guilty to mail fraud and aiding and abetting, said U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer and Department of Energy Acting Inspector General April G. Stephenson. The defendant had been indicted by a federal grand jury in Denver, Sept. 12, 2017.  The sentencing hearing will be Oct. 25, 2018, before Judge Martinez.

According to court documents, including the defendant’s plea agreement, in the summer of 2006 Vasilyev submitted an application to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) to obtain a federal contract worth $234,000. The defendant did this without the knowledge or approval of the University of Colorado’s Office of Contracts and Grants, which customarily would oversee such a contract.

Over the next five to six years, Vasilyev caused invoices to be submitted directly to LANL purportedly to pay his salary, as well as the salary of a graduate student.  LANL received the defendant’s invoices and forwarded money to an auxiliary account held by the University of Colorado for Vasilyev. Vasilyev then obtained this money from the auxiliary account by submitting travel vouchers and other requests for reimbursement to the University of Colorado.

Vasilyev later admitted that these requests for reimbursement included unallowable costs, such as more than $140,000 for international travel unconnected to any work for LANL. Other unallowable costs included dues, subscriptions, conference registration fees, and out of state travel. Vasilyev agreed to repay the University of Colorado a total of $185,879, but the total actual loss associated with Vasilyev’s fraud remains in dispute, according to the documents.