An Oct. 13 article about the arrest of a former George Washington University professor incorrectly said that Nabih E. Bedewi was accused of arranging for improper stipend payments for his brother's wife. Bedewi, who is charged with embezzlement, allegedly arranged the stipend for the wife of a close relative who worked at the university, according to a criminal complaint. The complaint had no allegations of wrongdoing pertaining to Bedewi's brother or his wife. (Published 10/22/04)
A former George Washington University professor was arrested yesterday and charged with embezzling nearly $600,000 in federal money while running a national traffic safety research center affiliated with the school.
Nabih E. Bedewi, 40, of Reston appeared in U.S. District Court in Washington to face charges alleging that he took the money between December 2002 and April 1 of this year.
Bedewi was on George Washington's faculty from 1990 until he resigned in June, a university spokeswoman said. An engineering professor, he ran the National Crash Analysis Center, a cooperative venture among the university, the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
The center used federal money to run crash tests at a facility in Langley and at a new test center at the university's Ashburn campus. The inspector general's office at the Department of Transportation alleged that Bedewi, who was director of the crash analysis center, set up a company called International Transportation Safety Corp. and awarded it subcontracts for crash test support work.
The university began investigating Bedewi when it discovered that he had awarded contracts to his own company, according to the inspector general's criminal complaint. The university then reported the situation to federal officials.
The federal investigation showed that the company collected more than $721,000 from the university, an amount later reimbursed by the federal government. Of that total, nearly $129,000 covered actual services rendered, leaving about $595,000 that the company was "fraudulently overpaid," according to the complaint.
The complaint alleges that International Transportation Safety Corp. lent most of that money to another company affiliated with Bedewi, New Generation Motors Corp. That company, profiled earlier this year in The Washington Post Magazine, has been struggling to market a new type of electric motor for vehicles. The firm received the money as a personal loan from Bedewi, who co-founded the company along with some of his former engineering students.
Bedewi was released after his court appearance and could not be located later for comment. His lawyer did not respond to phone messages.
An official at New Generation Motors said yesterday that the company had cooperated with the university in the initial investigation and was "shocked and disappointed in those revelations."
In addition to diverting money to New Generation Motors, Bedewi allegedly used some of the funds to make payments on his home equity line of credit, buy Washington Redskins season tickets, pay annual fees for a Florida condominium, make three monthly payments on an automobile lease and pay down credit balances for family members, according to the complaint.
The document also alleges that Bedewi arranged for his brother's wife to get more than $36,000 in improper stipend payments by falsely claiming she was a graduate assistant.