Jury convicts University of Kansas professor who concealed Chinese state employment

Feng "Franklin" Tao in 2018 became a full-time employee of Fuzhou University as a “Changjiang scholar distinguished professor."
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(Wang Xiaofeng/VCG via Getty Images)

A federal jury has found a University of Kansas professor guilty in connection with hiding that he had second at a Chinese state university while taking federal funds for his research.

The Kansas City jury on Thursday found professor Feng "Franklin" Tao guilty on three counts of wire fraud and one count of false statements in connection in connection with crime. He faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and two fines totaling $500,000.

In 2018, Tao became a full-time employee of Fuzhou University as a “Changjiang scholar distinguished professor," which he failed to disclose to his other employer, the University of Kansas, the Epoch Times reported.

The indictment further asserts Tao did not disclose his arrangement with Fuzhou in his annual reports to the University of Kansas and also lied to the college faculty, claiming to be in Europe when he was in fact at Fuzhou.

The research Tao conducted while at Fuzhou received funding from the U.S. Energy Department and the National Science Foundation. The indictment asserted Tao caused the University of Kansas to submit to DOE and NSF "hundreds of thousands of dollars in reimbursement requests for expenditures associated with the grants." Moreover, he "fraudulently received" $37,000 in salary through the two agencies.

The court has not yet set Tao's sentencing date.

Tao was one of about two dozen academics charged under the Trump administration's Justice Department-led "China Initiative," according to Reuters.

The initiative attempt to identify Chinese government trade theft and economic espionage. The Biden administration ended the initiative in February.