Former Purdue prof sentenced for funneling $1.3 million in federal research dollars

A former Purdue University professor and his wife were sentenced to two years of probation for a $1.3 million scheme involving federal research dollars.

The sentencing announcement comes amid a wave of arrests, indictments, and guilty pleas from multiple academics across the country, including those who did not disclose their ties to the Chinese Communist Party.

Qingyou Han, a former Purdue University professor and director of its Center for Materials Processing Research, was sentenced in late November to two years’ probation following a wire fraud scheme involving federal research dollars. 

Han and his wife, Lu Shao, had been accused of defrauding the National Science Foundation of more than $1.3 million, which they funneled to their private company. 

The Department of Justice stated that the couple made “materially false and fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises and material omissions,” and additionally “acknowledged that the purpose of the scheme was to obtain grant funds allocated for research and to use some or all of those funds for other purposes, including to pay personal expenses or for the enrichment of Dr. Han, Ms. Shao, or their children.”

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In addition to serving two years’ probation and paying nearly $1.7 million in restitution, Han must complete 200 hours of community service and pay a $25,000 fine.

”The National Science Foundation’s (‘NSF’s’) Small Business Innovation Research (‘SBIR’) program provides small businesses with funding to conduct research and development work that will lead to the commercialization of innovative new products and services,” said NSF Inspector General Allison Lerner. “Today’s sentence serves as a reminder that fraud in the SBIR Program will not be tolerated.”

Campus Reform has recently reported on several instances of professors funneling federal research dollars and trade secrets away from university projects and toward other parties, including the Chinese Communist Party.

In August, Texas A&M professor and NASA researcher Zhengdong Cheng was arrested for willfully taking steps “to obscure his affiliations and collaboration with a Chinese University and at least one Chinese-owned company” as he worked on a NASA project. Cheng was able to access NASA resources, including the International Space Station.

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Purdue University spokesman Tim Doty told Campus Reform that although the research funds in question did not involve a grant made to the university, Purdue “cooperated with the authorities while fully respecting Dr. Han’s due process rights.”

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