BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas researcher accused of hiding work he did from China while working at the University of Kansas has defrauded the U.S. government and university, according to revised federal charges filed Thursday.
The new indictment accuses Feng “Franklin” Tao of Lawrence, Kansas of seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements. It also seeks, if convicted, forfeiture of funds obtained from the crimes.
“Franklin Tao is not guilty of these allegations and looks forward to being fully justified so that he can move forward with his life and his investigations,” said lawyer Peter Zeidenbert in an email.
Federal prosecutors allege that from May 2017 to August 2019, Tao intended to obtain funds and property from the university, the United States Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
The indictment states that the aim of the scheme was to benefit China by participating in its “talent plan”, which the prosecutors say is intended to encourage the transfer of original ideas and intellectual property from the US university to Chinese government institutions. .
The indictment accuses Tao of not informing the University of Kansas that he has been selected for the Changjiang professorship or salary for his appointment at Fuzhou University in Fuzhou, China.
Tao was first charged in November with one count of wire fraud and three counts of program fraud. A much more detailed indictment in January brought him twice wired and one program fraud. The latest indictment added more counts of wire fraud along with the new counts of making false statements.
Tao, an associate professor of engineering at the University of Kansas, was born in China and moved to the United States in 2002. He has been with the Kansas for Center for Environmentally Beneficial Catalysis in Lawrence since August 2014. The center conducts research into sustainable technology to save natural resources and energy.
Tao, who received paid administrative leave after his charges in November, earns a salary of $ 110,682. During his time at the University of Kansas, he was a principal investigator of federal grants totaling more than $ 4.16 million, the university said.
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