Another professor caught shilling for China

Former West Virginia University professor James Lewis has admitted that he lied to his employer to obtain fraudulent paternity leave so that he could work for the chinese

Yet another American professor has been caught lying to his home university about his work for Chinese research institutions.

A former West Virginia University professor accused of taking fake paternity leave to work for the Chinese government has pleaded guilty to fraud charges.

According to the Department of Justice, former WVU professor James Patrick Lewis has admitted to convincing the university to grant him paid leave so that he could work for the Chinese Academy of Sciences. He had been recruited into the “Global Experts 1000 Talents Plan,” just like many other prominent American professors, including head of Harvard chemistry research, Charles Lieber, who is currently being prosecuted for his own alleged Chinese ties. Lieber’s alleged ties include being paid $1.5 million by the Chinese to build a laboratory in Wuhan, China, which is believed to be the origin of the coronavirus.

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Lewis told WVU that he wanted time off to care for his newborn child but reportedly took off to China, without the child, soon after.

The Chinese Academy of Sciences has a branch in Wuhan, but it is unclear at this time at which branch Lewis was primarily employed.

The DOJ explains that the program is “designed to attract, recruit, and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity, and national security,” and seeks to “lure overseas talent and foreign experts to bring their knowledge and experience to China and reward individuals for stealing proprietary information.”

Other American professors caught working for the Chinese government through the same program include Emory University neuroscientist Xiojiang Li, who was fired late last year for allegedly lying about his own ties. 

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Lewis’ contract required that he work full time in China for three full years beginning in August of 2018, In return, he was to receive about $86,000 per year in addition to a research subsidy of about $573,000 and a living stipend of roughly $143,000.

Lewis resigned from his position with WVU one year after the start date listed on his Chinese contract. 

“This case represents an attempt to serve China to the detriment of West Virginia University and the United States. Academia is a prime target for these activities and we will remain committed to prosecuting such fraud wherever it is found,” said U.S Attorney Bill Powell, Northern District of West Virginia.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan