The Department of Justice (DOJ) has charged Son Guo Zheng, an Ohio State rheumatology professor and researcher, with alleged grant fraud and making false statements for not disclosing that he maintained employment in China while continuing to work at American universities.
Zheng allegedly accepted “$4.1 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop China’s expertise in the areas of rheumatology and immunology,” according to the DOJ press release.
The affidavit says that Zheng has been a participant in a Chinese Talent Plan, which is a Chinese government program that recruits individuals with knowledge or access to foreign technology intellectual property.
Zheng was arrested on May 22 in Anchorage, Alaska aboard a charter flight. The professor was about to board another charter flight to China. When authorities apprehend Zheng, he had “three large bags, one small suitcase and a briefcase containing two laptops, three cellular telephones, several USB drives, several silver bars, expired Chinese passports for his family, deeds for property in China and other items.”
“Yet again, we are faced with a professor at a U.S. University, who is a member of a Chinese Talent Plan, allegedly and deliberately failing to disclose his relationship with a Chinese university and receipt of funds from the Chinese Government in order to obtain millions of dollars in U.S. grant money designed to benefit the health and well-being of the people of the United States — not to be hijacked to supplement the research goals of the Chinese Communist Party,” Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said.
“This case, like too many others, should serve as a reminder that the United States Government takes seriously the obligation of truthfulness and transparency on grant applications, and those who violate the law to benefit China or any other foreign nation will be held accountable,” he added.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio David M. DeVillers said that the DOJ thinks Zheng was preparing to flee the country after his employer started to investigate him to see if he was complying with rules around governing taxpayer-funded grants.
Zheng faces a maximum of 15 years in prison if convicted of these crimes.
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Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Star News Digital Media. If you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected] Follow Zachery on Twitter @zacheryschmidt2. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Photo “Song Guo Zheng” by Google Scholar.