Texas A&M professor accused of conspiracy, fraud, and making false statements

Local News

The U.S. Department of Justice says a Texas A&M University professor and NASA researcher is accused of making false statements and wire fraud.

53-year-old Zhengdong Cheng made his first appearance in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Sam Sheldon in Houston Monday. Authorities arrested him Sunday, August 23rd.

The federal complaint says Cheng willfully took steps to obscure his affiliations and collaboration with a Chinese University and at least one Chinese-owned company. That is prohibited by Cheng’s contract with NASA and A&M.

Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. DeMers says Cheng made false statements to his university and to NASA.

The criminal company states Cheng and A&M received funds based on Cheng knowingly providing false information to TAMU and consequently to NASA.  

In addition to the funds, Cheng personally benefited from his affiliation with TAMU and NASA with increased access to unique NASA resources, such as the International Space Station, according to the complaint.  

Investigators claim that access allowed Cheng to further his standing in China at Guangdong University of Technology and other universities.  

The charges further allege he held senior research positions there unknown to TAMU and NASA and was able to serve in the People’s Republic of China Talents program.

FOX44 News has reached out to Texas A&M for comment about these allegations.

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