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Former Arkansas Prof Pleads to Lying About Chinese Patents

January 24, 2022

A former University of Arkansas engineering professor pleaded guilty Friday to one count of making a false statement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to the plea agreement, the professor, Simon Saw-Teong Ang, made a materially false statement to a federal agent when he denied he was named as the inventor for numerous patents in China.

When asked by a special agent whether his name would be listed as the “inventor” of patents in China, Ang replied, “Yeah, I am not the inventor, I don’t even know what that is,” according to the plea agreement.

The plea agreement says there are 24 patents filed in China listing Ang as a co-inventor.

Ang pleaded guilty to just one of the 59 total counts he was charged with.

In a superseding indictment laying out the charges, including 55 counts of wire fraud, prosecutors alleged that Ang concealed his employment by a Chinese university, his affiliation with Chinese companies and his participation in Chinese scientific talent programs from the University of Arkansas and the U.S. government agencies that funded his research and salary.

The government has agreed to dismiss the remaining 58 counts against Ang pending acceptance of the plea agreement by the court.

Ang faces a maximum sentence of five years for the single charge he pleaded to, but he has the option to withdraw from the plea agreement if the court seeks to impose a punishment other than an agreed-upon sentence of year and one day in prison.

Drew D. Ledbetter, Ang’s defense attorney, said the Chinese patents were related to a small family business.

“Dr. Ang’s brother had a small LED light bulb company based in Singapore,” Ledbetter said. “Dr. Ang served in an unpaid position as chief technology officer to help his brother’s business. The University of Arkansas was aware of Dr. Ang’s commitment to his brother and his position in the company. The patents were related to this company. Dr. Ang was not materially enriched in any way.”

Ang is one of a number of academic scientists or engineers who have faced criminal prosecution under the Department of Justice’s controversial China Initiative for allegedly lying about Chinese funding sources or affiliations. At least four cases have now resulted in guilty pleas, one with a guilty conviction at trial, and one with an acquittal.

The government has also moved to dismiss about a half dozen cases, including charges against a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor that were dismissed last week.

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