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September 28, 2016

Lehigh University professor, wife sentenced in scheme to defraud NASA

Courts Sentencing
082916_LehighUniversity Clara.cogito/Creative Commons

P.C. Rossin College of Engineering & Applied Science at Lehigh University in Bethlehem Pennsylvania.

A former professor at Lehigh University and his wife were sentenced to federal prison Wednesday for a scheme in which the pair defrauded NASA out of $72,000.

According to information released by the United States Attorney’s Office, Yujie Ding, of Center Valley, was sentenced in federal court to a year and a day in prison, while his wife, and co-defendant, Yuliya Zotova, was sentenced to three months in prison.

The couple was convicted in November 2015 on five counts of wire fraud. 

The release noted that U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III also ordered the pair to pay a $3,000 fine and restitution in the amount of $72,000 after defrauding NASA's Small Business Innovation Research Program. 

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, from August 2009 through July 2010, the pair submitted proposals to NASA seeking research funding by claiming that their business, ArkLight, was doing research and subcontracting work to Lehigh University where Ding was a professor. 

Instead, an investigation found that the pair used ArkLight "as a front to funnel federal grant money to themselves for research performed by students and others working under Ding’s supervision at his university lab." 

According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, the defendants sent invoices to NASA for research that, a jury found, ArkLight had not participated in.