A Georgia Tech professor has been accused by federal prosecutors of violating customs laws by using his position to bring Chinese nationals into the United States to work at an partially state-owned Chinese information technology firm in New Jersey.
Chinese national Gee-Kung Chang, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology for 19 years, was charged on March 18 alongside former ZTE USA research director Jianju Yu with conspiracy to commit visa fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and wire fraud, according to Northern District of Georgia Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine.
The pair allegedly conspired together to bring Chinese nationals to the United States to conduct research at ZTE USA—a subsidiary of ZTE Corporation, a partially state-owned Chinese telecommunications and information technology company—in Morristown, New Jersey.
The 73-year-old Georgia Tech professor is accused of using his position to fraudulently sponsor J-1 visas—a work-study program—for the individuals through his institution, only to have them work at the New Jersey telecommunications company.
“The program is not intended for general employment of foreign workers in the United States,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
“After arriving in the United States, the Chinese nationals traveled to and resided in New Jersey to work with Yu at ZTE USA,” the indictment alleges.
Erskine said that in some instances, the visa recipients would receive salaries from Georgia Tech while they were actually working at ZTE USA.
“The United States welcomes academics and researchers from across the globe,” special agent in charge of FBI Atlanta Chris Hacker said. “But we cannot allow anyone to exploit our benevolence. That’s what these defendants are accused of doing and now they will be judged.”
“Schemes like this not only steal invaluable opportunities from legitimate, hard-working students it also allows scammers to come to the United States and profit from their misdeeds,” Homeland Security Investigations Special Agent in Charge Katrina Berger said.
It is not clear how many Chinese nationals were brought in to the United States on fraudulent visas.
“The defendants allegedly abused the visa program and deceived Georgia Tech to bring researchers into the United States,” Erskine added. “The charges presented are the first step toward holding them accountable.”
The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.
Georgia Tech didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.
A statement from the institution obtained by Patch says that Chang will remain on administrative leave pending the outcome of the judicial process.
“Georgia Tech is committed to the highest standards of integrity in all areas of operation,” it said.