A medical researcher was sentenced to nearly six years in prison for charges related to spending at least $3.2 million in federal grant funds on trips to visit his mistress in China and on a giant, now-empty research facility.
Jian-Yin Dong, 60, received the grants to research ebola vaccines and was convicted in 2015 of charges related to fraud, theft and lying to investigators, according to South Carolina newspaper The Charleston Post and Courier. Dong spent about $6 million of grant money to fund a $30 million, 50,000-square-foot research facility and on lobbyists to receive more funding.
U.S. District Judge Bruce Howe Hendricks gave Dong the minimum sentence of 70 months after hearing testimony from him and his new wife, whom he married after being convicted. (RELATED: Feds Won’t ‘Speculate’ About How Many Taxpayer-Funded Scientists Fake Data)
“You have constantly attempted to obstruct the administration of justice in this case and showed no contrition … until today,” Hendricks said. “I hope that you will use your time in prison and your … intellectual ability to good purpose.” (RELATED: Feds Give Billions To Research Based On ‘Falsified Or Fabricated Data’)
The Chinese native only became apologetic just before his sentencing Monday after previously having argued that his spending supported his efforts to create vaccines.
“I was so driven emotionally to the extreme … with little consideration to others,” Dong said during the hearing. “If I did wrong, I did wrong. My intention was to serve … our national security.”
His wife also spoke with Hendricks in broken English, “then dropped to her knees and cried, pleading with the judge to send her husband home,” The Post and Courier wrote.
He will also serve 18 months for a previous, related conviction on charges that Dong illegally sent campaign contributions to Sen. Lindsey Graham through other donors. The South Carolina Republican was reportedly unaware that the money was being funneled.
Dong represented himself at Monday’s hearing, but he did have an attorney advising him.
“He has a very different way of seeing the world,” Dong’s attorney, Miller Shealy, said in court. “What’s difficult to imagine is how someone can be so smart … and do incredibly stupid things.”
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