A former University of Florida professor and researcher fraudulently obtained $1.8 million in federal grant money while concealing support he received from the Chinese government and a company that he founded in China to profit from that research, U.S. officials said.
An indictment unsealed Wednesday charges Lin Yang, 43, a Chinese citizen, with six counts of wire fraud and four counts of making false statements to an agency of the United States. A federal grand jury in Gainesville returned the indictment in December.
Yang traveled to China in August 2019 and hasn't returned to the U.S.
“The taxpayer dollars that funded Yang’s research were intended to benefit the health and well-being of U.S. citizens," U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida Lawrence Keefe said in a statement. “But our indictment alleges that Yang engaged in acts of deliberate deception so that he could also further the research goals of the Chinese Communist government and advance his own business interests.”
According to the indictment, Yang obtained the grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop an imaging tool for muscles known as “MuscleMiner.” He served as the principal investigator for the NIH grant at UF from September 2014 to July 2019.
In 2016, Yang established a business in China known as “Deep Informatics," prosecutors said. He also was accepted into the People’s Republic of China’s Thousand Talents Program in connection with Northwestern Polytechnical University, located in Xi’an, China.
The indictment alleges that Yang intentionally concealed his Chinese business and participation in a Chinese government talent plan. On multiple occasions, Yang submitted disclosures to NIH and UF containing false statements and material omissions, officials said.
The case against Yang follows a Justice Department initiative, launched in 2018, to boost its focus on countering economic espionage and theft of trade secrets by Chinese interests.
Online court records didn't list an attorney for Yang who could comment.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story misnamed Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi’an, China.