Judge refuses to dismiss charges against Kansas researcher

November 2, 2020 GMT

BELLE PLAINE, Kan. (AP) — A federal judge refused Monday to throw out the indictment against a researcher accused of concealing work he was doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas.

Feng “Franklin” Tao is charged with not disclosing on conflict-of-interest forms work he was allegedly doing for China while employed at the University of Kansas — something federal prosecutors have portrayed as a scheme to defraud the university, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.

U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson rejected defense arguments seeking to dismiss the indictment on the basis that Tao’s prosecution opens the door to criminalizing workplace disagreements. She also found no prosecutorial misconduct in comments made to the grand jury, as the defense had claimed.


Prosecutors accuse Tao of not informing the University of Kansas that he was selected for the Changjiang Professorship or the salary for his appointment to Fuzhou University in China.

Tao faces 10 counts, including seven counts of wire fraud, based on two conflict-of-interest forms he submitted to the university.

The defense contention that Tao’s responses on the conflict-of-interest forms were true and correct based on the language in the forms is an argument properly reserved for trial, Robinson said.