UT researcher arrested on federal charges for wire fraud, making false statements

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A now-suspended researcher at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville was arrested by federal agents following the return of a grand jury’s indictment.

According to U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey of the Eastern District of Tennessee, Anming Hu, 51, an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering at UTK, is charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements.

UTK released a statement regarding Hu on Thursday:

The University of Tennessee has suspended Associate Professor Anming Hu, who was indicted by federal authorities on felony charges. UT officials have cooperated with federal authorities during the investigation. University leadership is fully committed to adherence to grant procedures and the protection of intellectual property.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville – Office of Communications and Marketing 

If convicted, Hu faces up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each of the wire fraud counts and up to five years in prison on each of the false statement counts, according to the Department of Justice.

The indictment alleges that beginning in 2016, Hu was part of a scheme to defraud the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) by hiding his affiliation with the Beijing University of Technology (BJUT), which is located in China.

Federal law prohibits NASA from using federal funds on projects in collaboration with China or that of Chinese universities.

The indictment alleges Hu’s false representations and omissions to UTK about his affiliation with BJUT caused UTK to falsely certify to NASA that UTK was in compliance with federal law.

“Hu allegedly committed fraud by hiding his relationship with a Chinese university while
receiving funding from NASA,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C.
Demers. “This is just the latest case involving professors or researchers concealing their affiliations with China from their American employers and the U.S. government. We will not
tolerate it.”

“The FBI and its federal government, private-sector, and academic partners will continue
to investigate and collaborate to counter these efforts at concealment, wherever they occur,” said FBI Special-Agent-in-Charge Joseph E. Carrico.

Multiple agencies are investigating the case – including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Offices of the Inspectors General for NASA and the Department of Energy, and the Department of Homeland Security-Homeland Security Investigations.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Casey Arrowood and Frank Dale of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee, and Trial Attorney Nathan Charles of the Department of Justice’s National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.

Hu’s arraignment hearing is set for Tuesday, March 3 at 10 a.m.

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