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Alpharetta man convicted of defrauding NASA
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Forsyth County News

ALPHARETTA — An Alpharetta business owner has been convicted of defrauding NASA and National Science Foundation of nearly $800,000 over a six-year span.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Northern District of Georgia, a jury found Craig  D. Near and Genziko Inc. guilty of on seven counts of wire fraud and two counts of filing false claims against the United States, all relating to a procurement fraud scheme.

Sentencing has been scheduled for Sept. 1 before U.S. District Judge Thomas W. Thrash. 

In a statement, Acting U.S. Attorney John Horn said Near had “supported himself and his family in a suburban lifestyle, with practically his only earnings being the fruits of his scheme defrauding the government.”

“The Small Business Innovation Research Program, which Near defrauded, supports technological innovation by investing federal research funds in critical priorities,” Horn said. “Near’s scheme diverted funds that should have been used for these important goals.”

According to Horn, the charges and other information presented in court, Near submitted numerous fraudulent grant and contract proposals to various federal agencies seeking funds for scientific research between June 2008 and June 2014.

Using a variety of fraudulent techniques, Near and Genziko were able to conceal the fact they made profits ranging from 79 to 197 percent on three proposals actually granted by the government.

Near and Genziko received nearly $800,000 in federal research funds on the proposals. 

Rather than using the money for the scientific research for which it was intended, Near spent it almost entirely on personal expenses such as mortgage payments, private school tuition for his children, vacations, shopping and large money wires to family and friends overseas.