U.S. Attorney Rick A. Mountcastle announced Wednesday a former engineering professor at Virginia Tech was charged with conspiring to defraud the United States, making false claims to the United States and making false statements within the jurisdiction of the United States.
Forty-six-year-old Yiheng Percival Zhang of Blacksburg, Virginia was the Chief Scientific Officer of Cell-Free Bioinnovations, when he applied for grant funding through the National Science Foundation under the premise that the funds would be utilized for research.
Zhang sent an email to a former employee at Cell-Free Bioinnovations stating, “What we expect here is to get this free money and use half of the money to do what you want do to do – make sweeteners. Another half will be used to pay VT graduate students to finish this project.”
Zhang is innocent until proven guilty.