Former Tech professor indicted, blames university politics - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL


Former Georgia Tech professor indicted, blames university politics


Former Georgia Tech professor Joy Laskar denied he broke any laws during an exclusive interview with CBS46 before an indictment on racketeering charges was handed down Tuesday.

The indictment came days before Laskar expected the five-year statute of limitations to expire. You can read the indictment here

"The dangerous slippery slope here is that the university system has allowed office politics to be criminalized," said Laskar.  

According to the indictment, Laskar, who was founder and director of Tech's Georgia Electronic Design Center, misused university resources to benefit his private company, Sayana. It alleges Laskar used more than a million university dollars to pay for chips that Sayana used.

Laskar countered that the chips were used for legitimate student research and helped build a successful research center which gave Georgia Tech clout in the field of chip design. It was common practice for faculty members and students to spin-off high-tech companies based on research conducted at Georgia Tech, Laskar said.  

Laskar pointed out that Georgia Tech officials not only knew about Sayana but the university owned part of the company.  

"Unfortunately, what I have to come to grips with is I must have upset folks," said Laskar referring to university administrators, although he wasn't able to explain what he may have done wrong.  

The professor's troubles began in 2010, when armed GBI agents raided his home and office and those of several colleagues. The search was based on a Georgia Tech audit which found cost overruns within the GEDC. Laskar said university officials never approached him about the alleged missing money before going straight to the GBI.  

One of Laskar's attorneys, Craig Frankel, said the actions of university officials appear to be an attempt to oust a professor who was protected by tenure.

The university suspended Laskar and later fired him. He sued and the Board of Regents paid Laskar his withheld salary and benefits for inappropriately suspending him without pay.  

Although he was arrested several months after the search in 2010, Laskar wasn't indicted for more than four years. He described the time as a sort of limbo, unable to find work because of the dark cloud over him and yet unable to clear his name because there were no formal charges to fight. 

CBS46 News learned the GBI turned over the case file to Attorney General Sam Olens' office in 2010. Olens dropped charges against Laskar's colleagues Chris Evans and Stephane Pinel in 2012. 

On Tuesday, a Fulton County grand jury indicted Laskar on two counts of racketeering. It's not clear what took the attorney general's office so long to pursue an indictment. Olens' spokesperson Lauren Kane did not respond to Chirico's questions Friday.  

"We intend to fight these charges and look forward to confronting the allegations in court," wrote Craig Gillen, Laskar's criminal attorney.  

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