Tech professor accused of shaking down grad students for $20,000

ATLANTA — A prominent Georgia Tech professor is on leave, accused of shaking down graduate students he supervises for at least $20,000.

The university announced they are now taking steps to fire Dr. Jochen Teizer, an associate professor of construction engineering, after Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher notified the school of his plans to report the allegations.

Belcher obtained a completed report of suspected malfeasance on Friday afternoon and learned that the university will repay the money Teizer took from students.

Teizer, who also served as director of Tech’s construction safety and technology lab, received a salary of $125,000.

Allegations against Teizer came from about 10 Asian graduate students he supervised.  Belcher learned the students are not fully fluent in English.

The first allegation, made in October 2013, notes that one student told school officials in he paid more than $10,000 in cash to the professor in 2011.

Auditors estimate the total payments are double that sum.

Reginald DesRoches, chair of civil and environmental engineering and Teizer’s boss, started the investigation in October.

He later included Provost Rafael Bras, the schools No. 2 academic officer and university President George “Bud” Peterson.

Teizer told a colleague that he still had the student’s money and planned to use it for research, according to investigators.

In an email Thursday evening,  DesRoches notified faculty members: “Associate professor Jochen Teizer has been placed on leave and the institute has initiated dismissal proceedings. Professor Teizer is accused of violations of Georgia Tech and university system policies. The institute is reimbursing students for any improper payments made to the faculty member.”

Belcher reached out to Teizer via phone and email but didn’t receive a response.