A former University of Arkansas (U of A) professor has been sentenced to one year in federal prison for lying to the FBI about the patents of his inventions that he filed in China.
Simon Saw-Teong Ang, 65, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the FBI on Thursday, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ).
Court documents revealed that the former U of A professor filed 24 patents under his Chinese birth name in China, which was against a U of A policy that requires its professors to “promptly furnish” to its “full and complete” disclosures of their inventions. Additionally, the U of A must be given ownership of all the inventions made by professors subject to the policy.
“This policy was established ‘in furtherance of the commitment of the University to the widest possible distribution of the benefits of University Research, the protection of Inventions resulting from such research, and the development of Inventions for the public good,’” the DOJ report read.
The DOJ also stated that Ang failed to mention his Chinese patents to his university and lied about his connection to the inventions while speaking to the FBI.
The former professor denied filing the patents and also purportedly received several talent awards from the Chinese government, which he failed to list on the U of A’s annual conflict of interest disclosure forms.
Ang pleaded guilty to making a “materially false and fictitious and fraudulent statement” to an FBI special agent and has been sentenced to a year in federal prison. He was also fined $5,600. There were more than 50 charges against him, including federal wire fraud, but they were dropped after he signed a plea agreement on Jan. 21.
While in court on Thursday, Judge Timothy Brooks said Ang had been “cooperative with the government” during the investigation, noting that he was “loved and respected by his colleagues” at his university. He reportedly took responsibility and “sincerely apologize[d]” for his actions.
Ang, who moved from Malaysia to the U.S. in 1977, held several positions with Chinese companies while teaching electrical engineering at the university, according to reports. He was apprehended on May 8, 2020, on charges related to Wire Fraud. He also purportedly failed to mention his ties with the Chinese government, the DOJ said at the time.
Until his arrest, Ang was serving as the director of the High Density Electronics Center (HiDEC). He had worked for the U of A for over 30 years, and less than two months after he was apprehended, the U of A fired him.
GOP lawmakers submitted a bill called “Secret Campus Act” days after Ang’s arrest that prohibits Chinese nationals from studying STEM fields at the graduate and postgraduate levels in the U.S.