UT professor charged with defrauding NASA
University of Tennessee associate professor Anming Hu, stands trial on federal charges for wire fraud and making false statements.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A now-suspended University of Tennessee associate professor is charged with three counts of wire fraud and three counts of making false statements according to the Department of Justice.
Anming Hu was an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering at UTK where he conducted research under grants funded by the government including the Department of Energy and NASA.
Hu allegedly worked for Beijing University of Technology as early as 2013 according to the indictment and was arrested in February of 2020.
“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.
The NASA China Funding Restriction (NCFR) prohibits those from using appropriated funds on projects in collaboration with China and Chinese universities.
The indictment also states that Hu was required to report any conflicts of interest to UT.
Hu not reporting to UTK that he had no affiliation with BJUT, lead to UTK falsely certifying to NASA that UTK was in compliance with the law thus receiving the funds, according to the DOJ.
“The United States Attorney’s Office takes seriously fraudulent conduct that is devised to undermine federally-mandated funding restrictions related to China and Chinese universities,” said U.S. Attorney J. Douglas Overbey for the Eastern District of Tennessee.
Hu is the first to go on trial as part of the DOJ’s China Initiative. The China Initiative aims to counter Chinese national security threats due to ’80 percent of all economic espionage prosecutions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) allege conduct that would benefit the Chinese state,’ according to the DOJ.
On the first day of his trial, Hu’s wife Ivy Yang was outside the courthouse to support her husband. She believes this arrest is because of racial profiling.
“I couldn’t think of what kind of law he would break to ruin his life, career, and beloved family,” Yang said. “But his arrest left the family in shambles.”
If Hu is found guilty, he can face up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000 on each wire fraud count as well as up to five years in prison on each of the false statement counts according to the DOJ.
The FBI, the Offices of the Inspectors General for NASA and the Department of Energy investigated the case according to the FBI.
UTK has cooperated with the investigation according to Overbey.
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