University Of New Hampshire Employee Pleads Guilty To Interstate Transportation Of Stolen Money
CONCORD, N.H. - Hailong Zhang, 46, of Nottingham pleaded guilty to interstate transportation of stolen money, announced United States Attorney Scott W. Murray.
According to court documents and statements made in court, Zhang was a Research Project Manager at the University of New Hampshire’s College of Life Sciences. Zhang was authorized to use a credit card provided by UNH to pay for expenses covered by grants that were provided to the College of Life Sciences by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health (“NIH”). On 31 separate occasions from December 2013 to January 2018, Zhang used the credit card to purchase gift cards totaling more than $82,000 from Amazon.com, which he kept or used to buy merchandise for his personal benefit, including clothing, video games, and a snow blower. To conceal each such use of the credit card, Zhang submitted a fictitious receipt and a fraudulent written justification for the expense to UNH. The bogus documents caused the University System of New Hampshire to make payments on the credit card and obtain reimbursement for the unauthorized expenses from the NIH.
“Mr. Zhang’s conduct is particularly disturbing because the money he stole should have been used to advance important scientific research projects,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “Government research funds are not intended to be used to supplement personal income. Anyone who engages in this type of selfish criminal behavior will be prosecuted.”
“I am grateful for the daily due diligence of the University of New Hampshire and University System employees who alerted the police to this criminal activity.” said UNH Police Chief Paul H. Dean. “The complex joint investigation was a success due to the strong collaboration of federal and campus law enforcement and I believe it sends a clear message to anyone contemplating similar criminal activity in the research community.”
“Mr. Zhang has now accepted responsibility for misusing taxpayer money that was entrusted to him to pay for expenses covered by federal research grants. Not only did he mishandle those funds for his own personal gain, but he betrayed the trust of his colleagues at the University,” said Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “The FBI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to identify others like Mr. Zhang who fraudulently misuse government money for their own self-enrichment.”
“Taxpayer funds at NIH support critical research that can ultimately save lives,” said Phillip M. Coyne, Special Agent in Charge for the Office of Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Zhang siphoned off these life-giving dollars and will now pay the price.”
Zhang will be sentenced on March 29, 2019 .
The case was investigated by the UNH Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service, Office of Inspector General, with assistance from Nottingham Police Department. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert M. Kinsella.