Three months after he was arrested for allegedly defrauding former employers URS Corp. and STV Corp., and clients, of more than $3 million in allegedly fabricated expenses, George Papadopoulos, an engineer and former vice president of those companies, will be in court March 22 following a not guilty plea to federal fraud and larceny charges last month in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston. He was released on $25,000 bail.
“As a construction project manager, Mr. Papadopoulos had authority and discretion to make expenditures and seek reimbursement for them,” says a statement released on his behalf. “He believes these expenses are within the scope of that discretion.” The statement was released by ML Strategies, a Boston communications firm that is affiliated with the law firm also based there that is representing Papadopoulos in court proceedings—Mintz Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C.
Federal prosecutors claim that between 2004 and 2009, Papadopoulos submitted phony expenses to San Francisco-based URS, for which he had been vice president and Boston branch manager, and hid the fraud by inflating bills to two major clients whose projects he managed and whose billings he handled.
A court filing identifies the clients as Harvard University, for which URS managed construction of a new science facility, and Massport, a state agency for which URS managed the $1-billion upgrade of Boston’s Logan Airport.
According to the court filing, Papadopoulos submitted 250 fabricated expense reports to URS alone.
“He took advantage of a URS policy permitting employees to be reimbursed for business expenses they have personally incurred,” says the court filing. “He even generated false emails to appear as authorizations form Harvard and Massport supervisors to make such purchases.”
Prosecutors contend that an analysis of Papadopoulos’ finances shows “habitual spending well beyond his means,” including $515,000 in home improvements, $111,000 in Armani clothing and more than $1 million in personal credit card expenses.
According to the filing, Papadopoulos continued the fraud at STV. He was hired in spring 2009 as vice president and deputy director of its construction management division, based in its New York City headquarters and reporting directly to President Milo E. Riverso.
Prosecutors charged Papadopoulos with one count of larceny for submitting $15,000 in moving expenses "despite the fact that he never moved," says the court filing. "In reality, Papadopoulos only moved a car full of clothes to White Plains, [N.Y.]." An STV pokeswoman could not say when he left the firm or was terminated.
According to a statement from U.S. Attorney Martha Coakley in Boston, Papadopoulos was arrested last December at his home in Medford, Mass., and pleaded not guilty two days later in Boston Municipal Court.
In its own statement, URS says that it “identified this issue internally, notified the affected clients and cooperated fully with the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office.” It also says that Papadopoulos was terminated “upon completion of an internal investigation. URS maintains the highest ethical standards and takes issues of this nature very seriously.”
Also in a statement, STV says that during Papadopoulos’ “very short tenure at the company, his salary and expenses were not charged to any client and have been eliminated from STV’s overhead.” The company contends that background checks made before his hiring “did not reveal any improprieties,” but that the company “will undertake even more extensive background checks for future employment applicants.”
According to published reports, Papadopoulos held engineering degrees from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University and was a Fullbright scholar at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also served as a senior program manager for construction of a new airport in Larnaca, Cyprus and was a licensed engineer in that country as well as in Greece and England.