OSU sues over alleged fraud

An FBI investigation is underway into allegations that a husband and wife team committed a multimillion fraud against an Oklahoma State University-owned company engaged in sensitive national security research, The Oklahoman has confirmed.
by Randy Ellis and Chris Casteel Modified: January 19, 2014 at 10:00 pm •  Published: January 19, 2014
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©Copyright 2014, The Oklahoman

An FBI investigation is underway into allegations that a husband and wife team committed a multimillion-dollar fraud against an Oklahoma State University-owned company engaged in sensitive national security research, The Oklahoman has confirmed.

Attorneys representing OSU and its Ponca City research company allege that some of the diverted funds were used to support an upscale dress shop on Oklahoma City's Classen Curve, while some other funds ended up in Cyprus offshore accounts.

OSU and its research company are attempting to recover the lost funds through a lawsuit filed last April in Kay County District Court.

The alleged victim of the schemes was OSU-Multispectral Laboratories (UML), a Ponca City-based limited liability company owned by the university that conducts sophisticated research involving drones and other devices for the benefit of U.S. defense, intelligence and homeland security agencies.

UML representatives said “no federal or state appropriated funds were involved” in the alleged fraud and there is no indication that any classified information or research was stolen through the schemes. They said they are working closely with federal authorities.

“The losses occurred at UML, a stand-alone entity owned by OSU,” UML representatives said in response to questions submitted by The Oklahoman. “Currently, UML is conducting an extensive investigation. The UML will have a solid understanding of the scope of the scheme, and the amount of funds involved, when the investigation is completed.”

Lawsuit allegations

Filings in OSU's lawsuit have all the intrigue of a John Grisham thriller, complete with allegations of betrayal by the former contractor-operator of the OSU-owned lab, diversion of funds through a web of interlocking companies and an alleged “trust account scheme” involving out-of-state attorneys and the wire transfer of $1.675 million to Cyprus bank accounts.

At the center of the allegations is Daniel Webster Keogh, the former president of Triton Scientific. Keogh reports having a doctorate in chemistry from the University of Maryland and prior work experience as a technical and business leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

UML contracted with Triton to operate its Ponca City lab. The university alleges that Keogh used this position of trust to divert funds from UML to more than a half dozen other companies in which Keogh, his wife, Danielle, and/or his wife's uncle were owners, officers and/or employees.

“Using Dr. Keogh's vast experience with government contracting and technical scientific knowledge in conjunction with Danielle's financial training and expertise as a certified fraud examiner, Dr. Keogh and Danielle have utilized Triton to operate UML for their own personal gain and the gain of the related entities, improperly diverting funds and abusing the trust placed in them,” OSU alleges.

Keogh and his companies have acknowledged that the Keogh Group did, for a time, bill UML in behalf of its wholly owned subsidiaries. However, Keogh contends the invoices were legitimate billings.

“We are confident that when the UML can finally finish its analysis of its own computer system and financial records, the allegations against the Keoghs will be shown to be false,” said Oklahoma City attorney Dan Webber, who represents the couple.

Webber said Keogh also has been cooperating with federal authorities.

Keogh was forced to leave his position at the Ponca City lab in late 2012, about the same time UML officials say they reported the alleged fraud to federal authorities.

Upscale clothing store

In one alleged scheme, OSU claims that a company owned by Danielle billed Triton, which in turn billed UML, for financial services that were actually costs associated with the operation of Liberte — an upscale women's clothing store owned by Danielle that is located on Oklahoma City's Classen Curve.

Webber said the Keoghs have “provided a wide range of financial information to the UML attorneys in an effort to rebut the allegations, including the allegation about the dress store.”

Another alleged scheme, that cost UML $1.675 million, had all the characteristics of a classic confidence game. UML contends Keogh was one of the perpetrators of the scheme, while Keogh contends he was taken in by a fraud committed by others and received none of the money.

In a sworn affidavit, Keogh states he was introduced to a man named Jay Moore in February 2012 while fundraising for UML. “Jay Moore” was an alias used by Joseph P. Motley, Jr., of Astoria, N.Y., according to other court documents.

Keogh said “Moore” represented himself as controlling a large trust fund that funded projects like ones done by UML and put Keogh in contact with Patrick E. O'Donnell, an attorney with the multinational law firm Squire Sanders.

Keogh said O'Donnell wrote him letters in September 2012 saying he had been approved for funding of two projects — one totaling $5 million and the other $8.4 million. To obtain the funds, Keogh was asked to first transfer $1.675 million to two accounts designated by O'Donnell, with $175,000 going to one account and $1.5 million to the other.

Cyprus bank accounts

Keogh said he was told he would get the $1.65 million back, along with the $13.4 million in project funding. Keogh said he transferred the money, but received nothing in return. Instead, the money ended up being transferred to bank accounts in Cyprus, according to court documents.

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by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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