Former Georgia Tech researchers plead guilty to using school money to buy 4-wheelers, TVs, more

ATLANTA — A trio of former Georgia Tech researchers will soon be sentenced after pleading guilty to defrauding the school and the CIA.

James Maloney, 57, served as Chief Scientist for the Georgia Tech Research Institute where he worked alongside James Acree and James Fraley on projects funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and other intelligence agencies. The men are all experts in electromagnetic analysis.

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Federal prosecutors say Fraley had access to a Georgia Tech credit card that was supposed to be used for official business.

All three men were accused of instead using the card to fund approximately $200,000 in personal expenses starting in 2007. According to prosecutors, the men purchased:

  • Two four-wheelers
  • Trailer
  • Two Sony 52-inch flat-screen televisions
  • Apple computers
  • iPads
  • OtterBox protective cases
  • iPods
  • Kindle E-readers
  • Leica and Nikon digital cameras
  • Video cameras
  • Mini micro pinhole video camcorder pen
  • Night vision monocular
  • Two pairs of binoculars
  • Bose headphones
  • 3D printer
  • Sports watches with heart-rate monitors
  • Sunglasses
  • Materials used to perform private consulting contracts
  • Computer monitors and solar panels for a private hunting club
  • Personal video network for home use
  • Uninterruptible power supply for a tennis ball machine

Maloney and Fraley also used the card to pay for remodeling and maintenance expenses on six rental properties they owned as part of a corporation called J’s Services, Inc. Some of those expenses were charged to a classified contract funded by the CIA.

In early February 2007, Maloney and Acree were reprimanded by the GTRI for violating the conflict-of-interest policy by using Georgia Tech facilities and equipment for outside use. The men promised to never do it again.

Prosecutors also allege that the men directed employees under their supervision at Georgia Tech to work on a private defense contract and charge the hours to a classified CIA contract. The men were paid $196,000 for this work.


Georgia Tech detected some suspicious activity on Fraley’s card in 2013 and asked for a meeting with him. Before that meeting, Maloney suggested to Acree and Fraley that they meet to “get their story straight.”

Fearing Maloney would shift the blame to him, Fraley secretly recorded the cover-up meeting and gave it to the FBI.

Maloney suggested they “weave a story around” the fraudulent charges and tell the auditors the purchases were made for a classified CIA contract and they did not need to know anything more.

Earlier this week, Maloney pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud. Acree and Fraley pleaded guilty to the same charge in 2016.

A sentencing date for all three men has not yet been set.

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