The United States Attorneys Office
Northern District of Georgia
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 13, 2011
Thorsen Allegedly Absconded With Over $1 Million
ATLANTA, GA – POUL THORSEN, 49, of Denmark, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of wire fraud and money laundering based on a scheme to steal grant money the CDC had awarded to governmental agencies in Denmark for autism research.
United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said of the case, “Grant money for disease research is a precious commodity. When grant funds are stolen, we lose not only the money, but also the opportunity to better understand and cure debilitating diseases. This defendant is alleged to have orchestrated a scheme to steal over $1 million in CDC grant money earmarked for autism research. We will now seek the defendant’s extradition for him to face federal charges in the United States.”
“Stealing research grant money to line his pockets, as Poul Thorsen stands accused of here today, cheats U.S. taxpayers and will simply not be tolerated,” said Derrick L. Jackson, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Region for the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Health & Human Services. “HHS/OIG will continue to work closely with our law enforcement partners to bring these criminals to justice.”
Reginael D. McDaniel, Special Agent in Charge of the Atlanta Region for Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation said, “Today’s global economy demands a high-level coordinated approach by multiple agencies and authorities in the investigation of financial crimes. While schemes often become more sophisticated over time, fortunately, so do our investigative techniques. IRS Criminal Investigation is proud to have shared its hallmark expertise in following the money trail in the scheme alleged in this indictment.”
According to United States Attorney Yates, the charges and other information presented in court: In the 1990s, THORSEN worked as a visiting scientist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, when the CDC was soliciting grant applications for research related to infant disabilities. THORSEN successfully promoted the idea of awarding the grant to Denmark and provided input and guidance for the research to be conducted. From 2000 to 2009, the CDC awarded over $11 million to two governmental agencies in Denmark to study the relationship between autism and exposure to vaccines, between cerebral palsy and infection during pregnancy, and between childhood development and fetal alcohol exposure. In 2002, THORSEN moved to Denmark and became the principal investigator for the grant, responsible for administering the research money awarded by the CDC.