A University of Minnesota professor pleaded guilty Monday to lying about his employment in an email.
Francois Sainfort pleaded guilty to a felony charge of false statement and writing for a February 2008 email to a Georgia Institute of Technology administrator, in which he falsely stated neither he nor his wife had signed employment agreements at the University.
A Georgia judge sentenced Sainfort to five years of probation and $43,578 in restitution to Georgia Tech.
Sainfort and his wife, Julie Jacko, were indicted in March 2011 in Georgia for simultaneously receiving pay from the University and Georgia Tech. They faced several counts of conspiracy to defraud the state, theft and false statements and writings. The charges were dropped in December.
According to court documents, in August 2007 Sainfort and Jacko verbally accepted University employment offers to begin in October of that year. Sainfort agreed to start as head of the School of Public Health’s Division of Health Policy and Management, with a full-time, tenure-recommended professorship. Jacko agreed to start as director of the University Partnership for Health Informatics and a professor with recommendation for tenure in the School of Public Health and the School of Nursing.
The charges concerned lying to Georgia Tech officials about their University employment as they continued to accept salary for several months — about $20,000 per month for Sainfort and $14,000 for Jacko.
In April 2008, the two took unpaid leave from their University administrative positions while the case of their dual employment was investigated. Both retained faculty status during that time.
Since Sainfort’s plea was entered under Georgia’s First Offender Act, he will be cleared of the charge if he successfully completes five years of probation, said defense attorney Wilmer Parker.
But despite the restitution, no money will change hands, Parker said. The parties agreed that between about $43,500 owed by Georgia Tech to Sainfort in unpaid leave claims and the judge’s sentence, it’s a wash.
As part of agreements, Parker said, the Georgia Attorney General’s office will not prosecute Jacko any further. Sainfort will not be prosecuted further than the charge of false statement.
Specifics of Sainfort’s probation are not yet outlined, Parker said. The case will be transferred to Minnesota.
Parker said Sainfort hopes to stay employed at the University. But the University has yet to officially address the issue.