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Revised charges filed against University of Kansas chemist Feng ‘Franklin’ Tao

by Jyllian Kemsley
July 2, 2020 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 98, Issue 26


University of Kansas chemist Feng “Franklin” Tao now faces 10 federal felony charges for wire fraud and making false statements related to his interactions with China, according to a grand jury indictment filed on June 24. The indictment alleges that Tao accepted a full-time position as a professor at Fuzhou University then concealed that appointment while remaining employed as a KU chemical engineering professor with funding from US federal agencies. The charges include 3 counts of making false statements on KU conflict of interest forms and to the US Department of Energy. The remaining 7 counts claim wire fraud for electronic submission of inaccurate KU forms, communication with the Department of Energy, and emails regarding travel, a research project, and a US federal grant application. In previous indictments, Tao had faced 3 to 4 total charges of wire fraud as well as program fraud alleging that he “embezzled, stole, and obtained by fraud, property worth at least $5,000.” Program fraud is not included in the June 24 indictment, which supersedes the earlier ones. Tao had been on paid administrative leave from KU since he was first indicted on Aug. 21, 2019; that leave switched to unpaid on July 2. “Franklin is absolutely innocent of these charges, and he looks forward to being vindicated in court,” says Tao’s attorney, Peter Zeidenberg of Arent Fox. Chief Judge Julie A. Robinson of the US District Court for the District of Kansas scheduled a pretrial hearing for Oct. 1.


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