US Legal Announcements – Former Columbia University Official Guilty of Stealing From University – Legal Announcements –
GUY PETRILLO, the Acting United States Attorney for the
Southern District of New York, for purposes of the case described
in this release, announced that JOHN BZDIL, III, pleaded guilty
today to charges arising out of a scheme to defraud Columbia
University (“Columbia”) through the submission by BZDIL of phony
invoices for expenses and purchases purportedly related to
services provided by the Pediatric Neurosciences Department of
the Neurological Institute at Columbia. The guilty plea was
entered before United States Magistrate Judge MICHAEL H. DOLINGER
in Manhattan federal court.

According to the criminal Complaint, Information, and
other documents filed in this case, as well as statements made
during BZDIL’s guilty plea proceeding:

BZDIL is formerly the Manager of the Pediatric
Neurosciences Department of the Neurological Institute at
Columbia (the “Department”). From approximately June 2005 to
approximately June 2008, BZDIL, using his position as Manager of
the Department, defrauded Columbia of more than $180,000, by
causing Columbia to make reimbursement payments for expenses and
purchases that were unrelated to services provided by the

As one part of this fraud, BZDIL submitted to Columbia
phony reimbursement requests for spinal muscular atrophy studies
purportedly performed by a medical professional affiliated with
Columbia. BZDIL then authorized Columbia to make payment on the
reimbursement requests, despite the fact that the spinal muscular
atrophy studies described in the reimbursement requests had not
been performed. BZDIL then diverted the money Columbia paid into
his own accounts or accounts he controlled. In this manner,
BZDIL stole over $112,500.

Additionally, BZDIL submitted reimbursement requests to
Columbia for items purchased from for his personal
use. Exploiting his position as a Manager, BZDIL authorized
these purchases, representing that they were goods and services
related to his employment at Columbia. Through this scheme, the
defendant purchased, and Columbia paid for, over $40,000 worth of
personal items at, none of which was a legitimate
employment-related expense.

BZDIL also submitted reimbursement requests for
expenses incurred at the Skytop Lodge, in Skytop, Pennsylvania,
in connection with his wedding. These expenses totaled more than
$25,000, and based on BZDIL’s false representations, were also
paid for by Columbia, purportedly for legitimate expenses related
to the Department.

BZDIL, 35, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, pleaded guilty
to a one count Information charging him with wire fraud, a charge
which carries a maximum term of 20 years in prison. The
Information also contains a forfeiture allegation for $180,000,
representing the funds obtained through the fraud. BZDIL is
scheduled to be sentenced by United States District Judge SIDNEY
H. STEIN on June 25, 2009 at noon.

Mr. PETRILLO praised the investigative work of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation in this case.
This prosecution is being handled by the Major Crimes
Unit of the United States Attorney’s Office. Assistant United
States Attorney JULIAN J. MOORE is in charge of the prosecution.
09-077 ###

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