Fire Crooked State Professor

Andrew P. Nichols is a Marshall University professor who pleaded guilty to participating in a scheme to defraud West Virginia taxpayers. A substantial amount of Marshall’s funding is courtesy of taxpayers.

It seems obvious, then, that Nichols should be fired immediately. He should never work at a state institution of higher learning again, or in any other state government capacity.

Apparently, Nichols is a good professor. At Marshall, he teaches engineering. At one point, the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia listed him as a finalist for its Professor of the Year award.

Before going to Marshall, Dennis worked for Dennis Corp., a South Carolina engineering consultant firm. An investigation revealed that during his tenure there, from 2006-2015, he conspired with a state Division of Highways employee to illegally divert $1.5 million in DOH projects to Dennis Corp. He made payments to the DOH worker.

Last fall, he was indicted on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, obstructing justice and making false statements to Internal Revenue agents. On Monday, Nichols pleaded guilty in federal court to a tax fraud charge.

Three other people, two of them former DOH engineers and one the president of another consulting firm, also have entered guilty pleas in the scheme.

A Marshall spokeswoman, responding to a reporter’s question on Monday, said only that university officials had not been informed of the plea. “It’s a personnel matter and as such we can’t comment further at this time,” she added.

It may take a few days for Marshall officials to confirm the details in Nichols’ case. As soon as that happens, he ought to be fired and escorted off campus. Then university officials should take a close look at his work there, to determine whether he victimized taxpayers at Marshall, too.