CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The termination process has begun for a university professor who recently pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges in connection with a kickback scheme involving the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reports that a Marshall University official said on Monday the school plans to fire civil engineering professor Andrew P. Nichols, who has taught there since 2007. Nichols’ plea agreement says the 38-year-old admitted to conspiring with a state Division of Highways worker to impede the IRS from collecting proper taxes between 2009 and 2011.

Federal prosecutors allege the scheme illegally diverted $1.5 million worth of state projects to Dennis Corporation, a South Carolina engineering consulting firm.

Marshall spokeswoman Ginny Painter says Nichols has been notified of the university’s intent and has the right to appeal his termination.

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