Greg Land of the
Fulton County Daily Report wrote two articles that discussed two aspects of the ongoing case, the first one appeared in January 2011 and the second in April 2011, after Joy had prevailed with the backpay issue.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Georgia Tech prof reaches settlement with regents
Agreement will pay $181K in salary to professor who says he was
unfairly suspended over allegations he misused university funds
By Greg Land, Staff Reporter
(Zachary D. Porter/Daily Report)
Craig Frankel: Settlement vindicates Joy Laskar.
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A Georgia Tech electronics professor, who sued the Board of Regents
after being suspended and arrested in connection with allegations that
he conspired to funnel about $2 million in school funds to a company
he co-owned, has reached a settlement with the state that will pay him
all of his back pay, benefits and legal fees, and may return him to
his duties as a tenured professor.
The settlement entered on April 11 will pay Joy Laskar $181,161 in
back salary, $16,739 in matching contributions to his retirement
account, and $6,887 in prejudgment interest; his attorneys will
receive $53,451 in fees and expenses.
Attorney Craig M. Frankel said the settlement represents everything
Laskar had sought, and essentially justified his client’s position
that he had been unfairly suspended. However, the attorney general’s
office said a criminal investigation of Laskar and two colleagues is
“I think their decision to pay us 100 cents on the dollar for our
damages is an acknowledgment of our position that they violated their
own policies and the rules of their faculty handbook, and their
decision to pay our attorney fees at 100 cents on the dollar is an
acknowledgment that they acted in bad faith,” said Frankel. The
settlement has already been paid, he said.
Laskar, founder and former director of the Georgia Electronic Design
Center at the school, was barred from campus on May 17, 2010, when
Georgia Tech President G. P. “Bud” Peterson placed him on unpaid
suspension pending an investigation into “evidence of malfeasance”
allegedly uncovered by the school’s Department of Internal Auditing.
The same day, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation issued search
warrants for nine locations on the Georgia Tech campus and two
residences. In September, Laskar and two other Tech employees were
arrested and charged with racketeering in connection with diverting
funds to Sayana Wireless. The company’s co-owners include Laskar and
Georgia Tech research engineer Stephane Pinel, who also was arrested,
along with office administrator Chris Evans.
In December, Laskar sued the Board of Regents, arguing that Tech had
violated its own policies by suspending him without pay before he had
been afforded a dismissal hearing, and by publicizing his suspension
and the allegations of wrongdoing before the conclusion of the
According to the terms of the settlement, Laskar will continue to draw
his customary salary until the conclusions of a “duly appointed
faculty committee” are presented to Peterson, who will decide if he
should be terminated.
Lauren Kane, spokeswoman for the office of Attorney General Sam Olens,
which represented the Board of Regents, said the settlement “speaks
for itself,” and declined further comment on the matter.
Kane said that because the criminal allegations against all three
remain under investigation, she could not discuss them.
Laskar, 47, joined the Georgia Tech faculty in 1995 and founded the
Georgia Electronic Design Center in 2003. The center focuses on
research into communications technology and has partnered with dozens
of corporate entities including IBM Corp., Samsung, Intel Corp.,
Nortel and Raytheon Co., among others.
Laskar, an Indian-born U.S. citizen, has more than 50 electronic
patents awarded or pending, according to his complaint, and since 2007
has held the Schlumberger Chair in Microelectronics at the School of
Electrical and Computer Engineering.
According to Frankel, Laskar was responsible for generating more than
$200 million for Georgia Tech in research funding, grants and venture
capital. One of many companies growing out of the center’s VentureLab
startup generator was Sayana Wireless, a company specializing in the
manufacture of high-efficiency computer chips, launched by Laskar and
Pinel but which is partly owned by Georgia Tech.
Last May, according to the complaint, as preparations were under way
for a private offering of Sayana stock, Tech officials called in the
GBI and charged that the school had been improperly billed for nearly
$2 million in computer chips.
Laskar, Pinel and Evans were arrested and charged with violating
Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations statute, but
have yet to be indicted.
“I’ve seen the evidence Georgia Tech has; I do not believe they have
any evidence that Dr. Laskar did what they said he did,” said Frankel.
The school alleged that it paid nearly $1.9 million for chips used by
other entities, said Frankel, “but our investigation showed Georgia
Tech received chips worth $1.4 million that were used exclusively by
Georgia Tech students and researchers. Why is it wrong for Georgia
Tech to buy chips for its own faculty and students? This is standard
and accepted procedure.”
Laskar’s attorney for the still-pending criminal charges, Gillen,
Withers & Lake partner Craig A. Gillen, said there haven’t been any
new developments in the case.
“Hopefully,” said Gillen, “after all the material is thoroughly
reviewed by knowledgeable individuals, we can sit down and discuss the
matter with the attorney general’s office. I’m confident that they’ll
determine—as we have—that he is not responsible for any criminal
activity, nor was anyone related to Sayana, and that no crime has occurred.”
Pinel’s attorney, Chilivis, Cochran, Larkins & Bever partner Anthony
L. Cochran, said that, in accordance with university rules, he was
barred from discussing his client’s case. Pinel has not filed suit
against the state.
“The Georgia Tech Faculty Handbook specifically provides that these
matters are supposed to be kept strictly confidential,” said Cochran.
“For that reason, we have no comment.”
“We’re just waiting to see when and if the attorney general’s going to
present it to a grand jury,” said Evans’ attorney, Robert G. Rubin of
Decatur’s Peters, Rubin & Sheffield. “We’re hoping to meet with him to
discuss it before he does.”
Evans, whose claim for unemployment benefits was denied by a hearing
officer, appealed that decision; last month, Fulton County Superior
Court Judge Michael D. Johnson ordered a rehearing on his
Laskar’s settlement agreement stipulates that he will be reinstated
and provided “the full array” of accompanying benefits, unless and
until Peterson—after receiving the recommendation of the faculty
committee—decides to terminate him.
As to when that decision might be forthcoming, “the simple answer is
that we don’t know,” said Frankel.
Frankel said Laskar has spent the months since his suspension “mostly
trying to defend his reputation. He wants the opportunity to clear his
The case is Laskar v. Board of Regents, No. 2010CV194600.