A Chinese professor convicted under President Trump’s China Initiative has been cleared of three of the convictions against him.
KCUR reports a federal judge overturned convictions on three counts of wire fraud against University of Kansas professor Franklin Tao, a permanent US resident who moved to the United States from China in 2002.
“There was no evidence that Tao obtained money or property through the alleged scheme to defraud, as required under the wire fraud statute,” U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson stated.
She did however let stand a lesser charge of making false statements.
This case and others prosecuted under the China Initiative have been blasted by prominent members of both the Asian American and academic communities as examples of racial profiling.
“In addition to harm it’s causing in our communities, the numbers simply do not justify this program,” Congresswoman Judy Chu said at a virtual press conference hosted by the United Chinese Americans coalition in January. “After 3 years of investigations, over 150 defendants and at least 77 cases, the China Initiative has secured just one single conviction in a court of law. This dismal record shows that the [Initiative] is flawed.”
The China Initiative has since been ended by the Biden administration.
According to Fox News, Tao carried out work for the University of Kansas while also employed by Fuzhou University in China. However, Robinson ruled prosecutors failed to prove that Tao was compensated by Fuzhou, a requirement of being convicted of wire fraud.
“During the time period of the alleged scheme to defraud, Tao continued to rightfully receive his salary from KU for his services and continued to successfully perform the research required by DOE and NSF under their research grants,” Robinson wrote.
However, Robinson also concluded by Tao hid his employment with Fuzhou University and let stand a conviction against him of making false statements.
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