Texas A&M professor hid ties to China from NASA, DOJ alleges in criminal complaint

NASA researcher employed by Texas A&M University was taken into custody Sunday

A NASA researcher employed by Texas A&M University was taken into custody Sunday and charged with conspiracy, making false statements and wire fraud related to his ties with Chinese organizations.

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Zhengdong Cheng, 53, was scheduled for a court appearance in Houston on Monday morning, according to the Department of Justice.

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The Department of Justice alleges Cheng, a chemical engineering professor at Texas A&M University, was connected to the Chinese Talents Program, which is "allegedly designed to attract, recruit and cultivate high-level scientific talent in furtherance of China's scientific development," the department said.

"China is building an economy and academic institutions with bricks stolen from others all around the world," U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Texas Ryan K. Patrick said in a statement. "While 1.4 million foreign researchers and academics are here in the U.S. for the right reasons, the Chinese Talents Program exploits our open and free universities. These conflicts must be disclosed, and we will hold those accountable when such conflict violates the law."

Zhengdong Cheng is a professor at Texas A&M University. (Texas A&M University)

Cheng hid his ties to a Chinese university and at least one Chinese-owned business that would have prevented him from having access to NASA's resources, the Department of Justice claims.

Cheng is still listed as a professor on Texas A&M University's website. His bio says he earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in China and his Ph.D. from Princeton University.

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Read the full complaint against Cheng here.

FOX Business' inquiries to NASA and Texas A&M University were not returned at the time of publication.

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