BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — A judge sentenced a 70-year-old former Southern University professor to two years in prison for fraud and money laundering Thursday, according to the Department of Justice.

According to U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr., Parviz Sharifrazi of Baton Rouge’s sentencing is a result of a federal investigation that started years ago. A news release states that in 2008 and 2009, Sharifrazi was an associate professor at Southern University and attempted to raise money for an unrelated business trip to Iran. He, along with a co-defendant who worked as the Information Technology Director for Southern’s College of Engineering developed a scheme to defraud Southern by submitting fraudulent equipment quotes in the name of fake vendors and causing Southern to approve the quotes, hiding their involvement to the plan, officials said.

Between April and Nov. 2008, Sharifrazi and his co-defendant caused Southern to issue checks totaling over $150,000 to the shell company and mail the checks to the out-of-state mailboxes, according to the DOJ.

Sharifrazi was indicted in 2011, however, he had left Southern and was living in Iran, becoming a fugitive for over a decade before agreeing to return to the U.S. in 2021, according to Gathe.

Louisiana Inspector General Stephen Street commented, “Justice for Mr. Sharifrazi has been delayed for well over a decade because of his deliberate choice to remain out of the country rather than face the music for his crimes. Today’s sentencing at last brings closure and consequences for a carefully devised criminal scheme to defraud the institution of higher learning at which Mr. Sharifrazi was employed. It also hopefully sends the message that the wheels of justice may sometimes turn slowly, but they do indeed turn. No matter how long it may take, the Louisiana OIG will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to relentlessly pursue public corruption in all of its forms.” Street added, “I want to commend United States Attorney Ron Gathe and his staff, as well as our partners at the FBI, IRS, and Department of Education OIG
for another successful outcome.”

Sharifrazi’s co-defendant pled guilty in 2010 and has completed his sentencing, which included imprisonment and paying restitution to the university.

“This sentencing demonstrates the steadfast work of the FBI and our partners in bringing to justice individuals like former Southern University Professor Parviz Sharifraz, who engaged in fraudulent schemes that grossly impacted Southern University,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams, Jr. “We thank our partners from the U.S. Attorney’s Office Middle District of Louisiana, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation, the Louisiana Office of Inspector General, and the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General for their collaborative efforts to identify, investigate, and bring to justice criminals who seek to harm American universities through fraud and deceit.”

Sharifrazi and Southern University declined to comment.