A Morgan State University professor was sentenced to three years in prison Aug. 29 for scheming to fraudulently obtain research grants from the National Science Foundation and for taking kickbacks from university students’ stipends, federal authorities announced.
Manoj Kumar Jha, 47, of Severn, and a full time engineering professor at Morgan, will also be required to pay $105,726 in restitution, U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein announced.
According to trial testimony, Jha incorporated a company, Amar Transportation and Research and Consulting Inc., to obtain a $200,000 in grant funds between January 2008 and July 2009 from the National Science Foundation to study highway processes, and attempted to obtain another $500,000 grant from the organization. However, Jha was the company’s only employee and he maintained false timesheets and expenses reports to conceal his personal use of the funds provided to the company.
In addition, between March 2008 and June 2012, Jha oversaw two Department of Defense research contracts awarded to Morgan State and authorized $100,000 in stipend payments to students working on the contracts. However, investigators found that between July 2009 and July 2010, Jha told several students who had received stipends that they had to return a portion of the funds to him, offering various false reasons. In all, students returned approximately $36,000 to Jha, Rosenstein said.