Uh oh, someone may be in some serious trouble. According to an article released by the United States Attorney’s office in the State of Georgia April, 13, 2011, Mr. Poul Thorsen, age 49, of Denmark, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud and money laundering. According to the article Mr. Thorsen was scheming to steal grant money the CDC had awarded to governmental agencies in Denmark for autism research.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said concerning the case, “Grant money for disease research is a precious commodity. When grant funds are stolen, we lose not only the money, but also the opportunity to better understand and cure debilitating diseases. This defendant is alleged to have orchestrated a scheme to steal over $1 million in CDC grant money earmarked for autism research. We will now seek the defendant’s extradition for him to face federal charges in the United States.”
The indictment charges Mr. Thorsen with 13 counts of wire fraud and 9 counts of money laundering. The wire fraud counts each carry a maximum of 20 years in prison, and the money laundering counts each carry a maximum of 10 years in prison, with a fine of up to $250,000 for each count. The indictment is also seeking forfeiture of all property derived from the offenses, including an Atlanta residence, two cars, and a Harley Davidson motorcycle.
In the 1990s, apparently Mr. Thorsen worked as a visiting scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, when the CDC was soliciting grant applications for research related to infant disabilities. Mr. Thorsen successfully promoted the idea of awarding the grant to Denmark and provided input and guidance for the research to be conducted. It wasn’t until Mr. Thorsen allegedly moved to Denmark, when he was placed in charge and became the principal investigator for the grant, responsible for administering the research money awarded by the CDC.
According to prosecutors, it was at this point Mr. Thorsen allegedly began stealing the grant money. From February 2004 through June 2008, Mr. Thorsen allegedly submitted over a dozen fraudulent invoices, purportedly signed by a laboratory section chief at the CDC, for reimbursement of expenses that he claimed were incurred in connection with the CDC grant. The invoices falsely claimed that a CDC laboratory had performed work and was owed grant money. Based on these invoices, Aarhus University, where Mr. Thorsen also held a faculty position, transferred hundreds of thousands of dollars to bank accounts held at the CDC Federal Credit Union in Atlanta, accounts which Aarhus University believed belonged to the CDC. In truth, after researching the accounts, the CDC Federal Credit Union accounts were personal accounts held by Mr. Thorsen. After the money was transferred, Mr. Thorsen allegedly withdrew it for his own personal use.
Mr. Thorsen is accused of stealing over 1 million dollars in grant money, that was used for his personal use.
The article does not state when the court proceedings will take place. This case is being investigated by Special Agents of the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health & Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. Assistant United States Attorneys Stephen H. McClain and Michael J. Brown are prosecuting the case.
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