WASHINGTON: An Ohio man was sentenced to 33 months in prison after pleading guilty to wire fraud and theft of scientific trade secrets from the medical institute where he worked with the intent of selling them to China for financial gain, the Justice Department (DOJ) said on Tuesday.
“Yu Zhou sought to exploit U.S. taxpayer dollars intended to fund critical, life-saving research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital through the whole-sale theft of their trade secrets. Zhou’s greed was encouraged and enabled by a series of Chinese Government programs which incentivize thievery in an attempt to supplement China’s own research and development goals on the back of American ingenuity and investment,” said Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, John C. Demers, quoted in the DOJ statement.
Demers added that the prosecution should “serve as a warning to anyone who seeks to profit from pilfering hard-earned U.S. trade secrets.”
Zhou attempted to expropriate research information on exomes and exome isolation from the National Children’s Hospital’s Research Institute, where he and his wife worked. According to the DOJ, he and his co-conspirator wife, Li Chen, spent several years planning the crime together; Chen was sentenced to 30 months in prison back in February after being arrested alongside Zhou in July of 2019.
Zhou was involved in the creation of exosome isolation kits at the lab, which had a novel way of isolation exomes to help identify a number of medical conditions, particularly in premature babies. He and his wife intended to illegally sell the kits through a Chinese business they had created.
In addition to the 33 months in prison, Zhou will have to pay more than $2.6 million in restitution for the crime in addition to forfeiting approximately $1.45 million, 500,000 shares of common stock of Avalon GloboCare Corp. and 400 shares of common stock of GenExosome Technologies Inc