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Purdue professor and wife indicted in alleged fraud scheme with NSF SBIR/STTR grants

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: July 25th, 2018

The importance of monitoring use of SBIR/STTR funds has come into sharp relief at Purdue University, where a professor and his wife were indicted this week by a grand jury for allegedly defrauding the National Science Foundation, according to an announcement from the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana.

Qingyou Han, a professor of mechanical engineering technology and the director of the Purdue Center for Materials Processing Research, and his wife, Lu Shao, allegedly funneled NSF SBIR/STTR grant funds through a company they started and used the money to pay off their mortgage and purchase a second home, among other allegations.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, Han and Shao used the start-up founded, called Hans Tech, to obtain more than $1.3 million in grants from the NSF’s SBIR/STTR program. The company’s research involved strengthening lightweight metals for use in the aerospace, defense, and automotive industries, according to grant award abstracts in NSF’s database.

The pair are accused of using the funds to purchase a house for $116,000 in Lu Shao’s name, according to court documents, which she then leased to herself for $3,000 per month. It was later revealed that over $150,000 of the NSF grant funds were was used to pay “office rent” at the house.

Han and Shao are also accused of paying their 10- and 15-year-old children salaries of $24,000 for their supposed roles as a secretary and technical assistant for the research project, court documents reveal.

A Purdue spokesman said in a written statement that the university just learned of the indictment. Han was placed on paid leave pending further information, a spokesman said.

Source: Purdue Exponent

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