The Department of Justice reported on Wednesday, Feb. 3, that a former University of Florida professor concealed his relationship with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and obtained $1.75 million in U.S. grant money for medical research that was ultimately be used to serve the CCP’s interests and personal benefits.

Lin Yang, 43, lived for years in Tampa, Florida, where he served as a research professor at the University of Florida in the area of medicine. Now the Justice Department is charging him with six felony counts that include wire fraud and false affidavits. 

“Yang has been charged with fraudulently obtaining $1.75 million in federal grant funds from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by concealing the support he received from the Chinese government and a company he founded in China to benefit from that research,” the Justice Department stated in a public filing.

According to the indictment, Yang intentionally misled both his employer, the University of Florida, and the federal government in order to obtain more than $1.5 million in research funds for personal gain. 

Yang’s connections to the CCP

In all of the affidavits he was required to complete in order to receive the grant, he completely ignored his connections to the CCP and his own financial interests, Deputy Attorney General John Demers said in a statement.

The $1.7 million was originally intended to develop a muscle imaging tool called “MuscleMiner.” 

Yang was honored as the principal investigator among other participants. But far from declaring his connections to the CCP as specified by the Act, Yang started a business in China called Deep Informatics and applied for the CCP’s popular Thousand Talents Program (TTP), used to provide economic incentives in transferring intellectual property from abroad. 

“The taxpayer dollars that funded Yang’s research were intended to benefit the health and well-being of U.S. citizens. 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 [CCP] and advance his own business interests,” U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe for the Northern District of Florida. 

Each wire fraud charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Each count related to making false statements to a U.S. agency is punishable under the act by a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Yang traveled to China in August 2019 and has not returned to the United States, abandoning his workplace and belongings. So far his whereabouts are unknown, but he carries a warrant for his arrest, which if he sets foot on U.S. soil would be immediately effective.

The accusations against Yang add to the many known cases of Chinese spies working in the United States for the purpose of sending qualified information to the Chinese Communist Party.