BENTON, IL — A federal jury this week found a Southern Illinois University Carbondale math professor and researcher guilty of failing to report a Chinese bank account he had to the Internal Revenue Service.
The jury cleared the professor, Mingqing Xiao, of grant fraud Wednesday in federal court in Benton, Illinois, Reuters reports. The Makanda, Illinois, man was accused of fraudulently obtaining more than $150,000 in federal grant money. When he was indicted last year, the Justice Department claimed he was receiving support from the Chinese government and a Chinese university and concealing that support. The academic journal Science reports that Judge Staci Yandle on Monday threw out two of the fraud charges against him, and that jurors deliberated for three hours Wednesday before acquitting him of the third fraud account.
However, Reuters and Science each report that jurors did find Xiao guilty of failing to disclose a bank account he had in China on his income tax returns and of failing to file required documents with the Department of the Treasury.
Xiao has lived in the United States for 30 years, and he became a US citizen in 2006. He has tenure at SIU, where he’s taught since 2000. The professor was placed on paid administrative leave, and the university launched its own investigation into him after he was indicted. In April, the Southern Illinois University Carbondale Faculty Association called for the university to cease that investigation. One professor said the Trump-era initiative under which Xiao was charged was “eerily reminiscent of the incarceration of Japanese-Americans in the 1940s and the McCarthy era witch hunts of the 1950s that destroyed so many American lives and careers.”
Science reports that Xiao’s attorneys plan to appeal the guilty verdict.
Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 11. Xiao could be sentenced to up to five years in prison, and he faces thousands of dollars in fines.