In a stunning turn of events, a prominent professor at Georgia Tech has pleaded guilty to tax fraud. John Crittenden, a professor of environmental engineering and former director of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, admitted to lying on his tax returns by overstating his charitable deductions. As a result, he managed to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, all while perpetrating a tax fraud scheme involving Chinese nationals. Crittenden’s actions have cost him his job, as well as the requirement to pay all taxes owed. This case serves as a reminder that no matter the scheme or amount, falsifying tax returns is a serious offense with severe consequences.
U.S. Department of Justice
Georgia Tech professor pleads guilty to tax fraud
Overview of the Case
John Crittenden, a professor of environmental engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) and the former director of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems, has recently pleaded guilty to tax fraud. Crittenden was found to have lied on his tax returns by overstating his charitable deductions, resulting in him avoiding paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. This tax fraud scheme involved Chinese nationals, and U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Buchanan has stated that Crittenden will no longer be employed by the university and will be required to pay all taxes owed.
Background of the Professor
John Crittenden, an esteemed professor of environmental engineering, focused his academic research on scalable water treatment systems and technologies. He had deep ties to China, largely due to his position at Georgia Tech and his research. Crittenden partnered with a Chinese national named Duo Li to operate several companies in China, such as Beijing Keruiduo Environmental, Beijing Crittenden Environmental Technology Company, and Kunshan Techfirst.
Professor’s Position at Georgia Tech
Crittenden held the position of a professor of environmental engineering at Georgia Tech and also served as the director of the Brook Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems. This role allowed him to conduct extensive research and collaborate with colleagues and students in the field of environmental engineering.
Ties to China and Chinese Nationals
Due to his work and partnerships with Chinese national Duo Li, Crittenden had strong connections and involvement in China. These connections were developed through his position at Georgia Tech as well as his research and affiliations with various companies in China. Crittenden’s ties to China and Chinese nationals played a significant role in the tax fraud scheme that he was involved in.
Details of the Tax Fraud Scheme
The tax fraud scheme conducted by Crittenden involved two main aspects: partnership with a Chinese national and transfer of funds to charity.
Partnership with a Chinese National
Crittenden partnered with Duo Li, a Chinese national, to operate several companies in China. These companies included Beijing Keruiduo Environmental, Beijing Crittenden Environmental Technology Company, and Kunshan Techfirst. Crittenden and Li wired hundreds of thousands of dollars to the charitable donation arm of Georgia Tech, the Georgia Institute of Technology Foundation (GTF), or to Crittenden’s personal Bank of America account. Crittenden would then “donate” these funds to GTF, earmarking them for his use at Georgia Tech.
Transfer of Funds to Charity
The funds wired by Crittenden and Li or other Chinese nationals were intended for charitable purposes. However, Crittenden falsely claimed these transfers as charitable deductions on his tax returns without recognizing any of the transfers as income. This allowed him to avoid paying taxes on the funds.
Receipt of Transfers from Chinese Nationals
In addition to the transfers made by Crittenden and Li, Crittenden also received transfers to his Bank of America account from Chinese nationals participating in post-doctoral research at Georgia Tech or their family members. Similarly, Crittenden would “donate” these funds to GTF and falsely claim charitable deductions on his tax returns without recognizing the funds as income.
Lack of Awareness by Georgia Tech and GTF
Neither Georgia Tech nor the Georgia Institute of Technology Foundation (GTF) were aware of Crittenden’s involvement in this tax fraud scheme. The scheme was conducted without the knowledge or endorsement of the university or its foundation.
Consequences for the Professor
As a result of his guilty plea, Crittenden will face several consequences, including resignation from his employment at Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Research Institute. He will also be required to pay all taxes owed for the tax years 2011 through 2021. Additionally, Crittenden will fully cooperate with the Examination Division of the Internal Revenue Service in determining the taxes, penalties, and interest he owes.
Resignation from Employment at Georgia Tech
Crittenden’s guilty plea requires him to resign from all positions of employment at Georgia Tech and the Georgia Tech Research Institute. This resignation is a direct consequence of his involvement in the tax fraud scheme and aims to sever his ties with the university.
Payment of Taxes Owed
In addition to his resignation, Crittenden is obligated to pay all taxes owed for the tax years 2011 through 2021. This repayment is necessary to rectify the tax fraud committed and ensure that Crittenden fulfills his financial obligations to the government.
Archives and Legal Policies
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