Medical College employee charged with economic espionage

A former employee of the Medical College of Wisconsin has been charged with economic espionage, according to a federal criminal complaint.


The complaint alleges that Hua Jun Zhao, 42, stole three bottles of a patented cancer research compound valued at $8,000 and additional research data relating to the compound.

The FBI’s investigation indicates that Zhao may have intended to use his position at the Medical College to steal patented research material to take that material to Zhejiang University, a university in China.

The offense of economic espionage is punishable by 15 years in prison and a $5 million fine, according to the court minutes of the initial appearance on a criminal complaint.

Zhao, who was employed as an associate/assistant researcher at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), was officially placed on administrative suspension, relieved of all access badges and escorted off the campus on Feb. 27, according to the complaint.

In his role at the MCW, Zhao conducted experiments in pharmacology researching new compounds, specifically in the cancer research field, and assisted Dr. Marshall Anderson, the primary researcher, who patented the compound known as C-25 that was allegedly stolen by Zhao.

When MCW security asked if Zhao took the C-25, the complaint says, “Zhao did not answer the question directly and stated that he did not understand the question due to a language barrier.”

The complaint also includes allegations that Zhao remote-accessed the MCW server on the evening of Feb. 27, the day he was suspended, and “began deleting folders and items related to the C-25 research, consisting of Dr. Anderson’s original raw data.”

Zhao denied any involvement in the theft of the C-25 and denied remote-accessing the MCW server and deleting items, the complaint says.

Jessica Luedke, Public Safety Manager for Medical College of Wisconsin, contacted FBI Milwaukee on the matter on Feb. 27.

The complaint says, “Luedke advised that on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, MCW Professor-Doctor Marshall Anderson had left three bottles of a cancer research compound on his desk while attending to other activities at the MCW. When he later returned to his desk, he noticed the three bottles were missing. Dr. Anderson looked for the three bottles to no avail. On Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, Dr. Anderson reported the three bottles of the cancer research compound lost or stolen.”

Through the MCW Public Safety Department’s investigation, the complaint says, “Zhao was observed entering Dr. Anderson’s office on Friday, Feb. 22, 2013, and leaving thereafter. The videos showed no one else entering or exiting Dr. Anderson’s office during the time in question.”

No trial date has been set.

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