WASHINGTON – An Ohio man and rheumatology professor and researcher with strong ties to China was sentenced to 37 months in prison for making false statements to federal authorities as part of an immunology research fraud scheme. As part of his sentence, Zheng was also ordered to pay more than $3.4 million in restitution to the National Institute of Health (NIH) and approximately $413,000 to The Ohio State University.
Song Guo Zheng, 58, of Hilliard, was arrested Friday, May 22, 2020, after he arrived in Anchorage, Alaska, aboard a charter flight and as he prepared to board another charter flight in order to flee to China. He was carrying three large bags, one small suitcase and a briefcase containing two laptops, three cell phones, several USB drives, several silver bars, expired Chinese passports for his family, deeds for property in China and other items. He was transported to the Southern District of Ohio and made his first federal court appearance in Columbus last July.
Zheng pleaded guilty last November and admitted he lied on applications in order to use approximately $4.1 million in grants from NIH to develop China’s expertise in the areas of rheumatology and immunology.