MILWAUKEE (AP) - A Chinese-born researcher accused of stealing a possible cancer-fighting compound from a U.S. college pleaded not guilty Thursday to federal charges of tampering with a private computer and lying to a federal agent.
A criminal complaint against Zhao Hua Jun, 42, previously charged him with economic espionage, but the charge was superseded by his indictment Tuesday, meaning it no longer applies unless he's indicted on that charge as well.
"The circumstances surrounding that charge are still under investigation," Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen A. Ingraham, who's prosecuting the case, told The Associated Press.
In the original complaint, Zhao was accused of stealing three vials of the compound from the Medical College of Wisconsin, along with academic research that he allegedly planned to pass off as his own in China.
The computer-tampering charge arose from allegations that Zhao accessed school computers remotely and deleted files related to research on the compound. The college was able to recover the files. Zhao denied accessing the server or deleting files and said he didn't understand the FBI agents' questions, the original complaint said.
The two charges for which Zhao was indicted carry a maximum combined penalty of 15 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. The judge set a trial date of June 17.
The drug compound in question is called C-25. A research team at the medical college was studying whether it could help kill cancer cells without damaging healthy ones, school spokeswoman Maureen Mack said. The compound is still in early stages of research and has not advanced to clinical testing.
The lead researcher noticed three vials of the compound missing on Feb. 22. School security video showed Zhao was the only person who entered the researcher's office that day. Federal investigators questioned him about the vials on Feb. 27, but Zhao said he didn't understand their questions, the complaint said. The school immediately placed him on administrative leave.
Federal authorities searched Zhao's home and found a receipt for shipment of a package to Zhao's wife in China along with two airline tickets from Chicago to China.
They also found an application to the National Natural Science Foundation of China seeking research funding for C-25. In the application, Zhao wrote in Mandarin that he discovered the C-25 compound himself and was seeking funding to continue his research in China.
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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Connecticut state police are reporting dozens of motor vehicle accidents and schools across the state are closing early as snow continues to blanket the region.
Drivers are being advised to use caution as they battle snow falling on the roadways across Connecticut.
The snow made it's way into the state early Tuesday morning, causing multiple cities and towns to put parking bans in place.
Residents around the state are bidding farewell to fall and welcoming winter with these Report It photos from snowfall on December 10, 2013.
Route 16 is closed in Lebanon following an accident involving an oil truck.
Emergency personnel responded to a Milford home this morning after a truck came crashing into it.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy will be announcing a nominee to the state Supreme Court to replace Justice Flemming L. Norcott Jr., who has reached the mandatory retirement age of 70.
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — A Massachusetts man who was driving a casino tour bus that struck and killed a pedestrian at Mohegan Sun last year has been arrested.
A Middletown man was seriously injured after crashing into a telephone pole in the overnight hours Tuesday.
Norwich officials say they fired the city's recreation director over allegations he made personal use of city equipment, allowed drinking of beer at adult softball games on city property and invited family members to a staff party in a …