University of New Hampshire Employee Sentenced to Two Years of Probation for Interstate Transportation of Stolen Money
CONCORD - Hailong Zhang, 46, of Nottingham was sentenced to serve two years of probation, with 10 months of home detention, and fined $5,500 for aiding and abetting the 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, 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.
“Federal grant money provides vital support for programs that advance public health and the quality of life for all,” said U.S. Attorney Murray. “Those who steal these funds for their personal use should understand that they will face serious consequences. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to protect federal programs from fraud and abuse.”
“Today, Mr. Zhang is finally being held accountable for pocketing more than $80,000 in federal grant money on personal expenses when that money should have been used to advance important scientific research projects,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Taxpayers should know that the FBI will continue to work very closely with our law enforcement partners to protect federal funds from being stolen or misused.”
“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. We will continue to investigate all allegations of fraud, waste and abuse in HHS funded programs.”
Zhang previously pleaded guilty on December 7, 2018.
The case was investigated by the UNH Police Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, with assistance from Nottingham Police Department. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Robert M. Kinsella.