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Former Virginia Tech professor guilty of grant fraud

BLACKSBURG, Va. – A former Virginia Tech professor has been found guilty of trying to scam the government.

Yiheng Percival Zhang, 47, of Blacksburg, was found guilty last week of one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States, three counts of making false statements, and one count of obstruction by falsification. The ruling comes following a September 2018 bench trial.

Zhang was a biological systems engineering professor and was studying artificial sweeteners. He founded Cell-Free Bioinnovations, Inc., a research firm in Blacksburg that relied exclusively on federal grants. 

Zhang submitted grant proposals for research that he knew had already been done in China. He intended to use the grant funds for other CFB projects rather than for the projects for which the funds were requested. 

To obstruct the investigation, Zhang submitted falsified timesheets to government investigators.

Zhang has not yet been sentenced.