Former UF professor charged with fraud after obtaining $1.75 million grant

GAINESVILLE, Fla.Editor’s note: We are updating and correcting the story to reflect the correct name of the Chinese university based on updated and corrected information provided by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Officials say a former University of Florida professor and researcher fraudulently obtained $1.75 million in federal grant money while concealing support he received from the Chinese government and a company that he founded in China to profit from that research.

An indictment unsealed Wednesday charges 43-year-old Lin Yang, who formerly resided in Tampa, with multiple counts of wire fraud and making false statements to a U.S. agency.

A federal grand jury in Gainesville returned the indictment in December.

According to the indictment, Yang obtained the grant from the National Institutes of Health to develop and disseminate an imaging informatics tool for muscles known as “MuscleMiner.”

Prosecutors said he served as the principal investigator for the NIH grant at UF between September 2014 and July 2019.

Prosecutors said in a news release that Yang was responsible for “conducting and administering the grant in compliance with applicable federal law and institutional policies. Among other things, Yang was required to disclose his foreign research support and financial conflicts of interest, including his ownership of, or interest in, a foreign company.”

But prosecutors allege that Yang failed to disclose that he established a business in China called “Deep Informatics” in 2016.

He is also accused of promoting his business in China by stating that its products were the result of years of research supported by U.S. government funding and is accused of failing to report that he applied for and was accepted into the People’s Republic of China’s Thousand Talents Program (TTP) in connection with Northwestern Polytechnical University, which is located in Xi’an, China.

“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 and advance his own business interests,” said U.S. Attorney Lawrence Keefe for the Northern District of Florida.

Yang is a Chinese citizen. He traveled to China in August 2019 and hasn’t returned to the U.S.

Online court records didn’t list an attorney for Yang who could comment.

About the Authors: