Simon Saw-Teong Ang, a former engineering professor at the University of Arkansas, pleaded guilty Friday (Jan. 21) to one count of making a false statement to the FBI about the existence of patents for his inventions in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The accusations were detailed in a press release from the Department of Justice.
According to the release, Ang, 64, entered a guilty plea to count 58 on a superseding indictment charging him with making a materially false and fictitious, statement and representation to an FBI special agent.
According to court documents, 24 patents filed in China bear Ang’s name or Chinese birth name. The University of Arkansas required individuals such as Ang to promptly furnish “full and complete” disclosures of inventions, and UA policy provided that it, not individual inventors, would own all inventions created by those subject to the policy.
The policy was established “in furtherance of the commitment of the University to the widest possible distribution of the benefits of University Research, the protection of Inventions resulting from such research, and the development of Inventions for the public good.”
Despite the requirement, Ang did not disclose his Chinese patents to the university. According to the release, when interviewed by an FBI agent, he lied about his involvement in the inventions. Specifically, when asked whether his name would be listed as “the inventor” of numerous patents in China, Ang denied being the inventor, despite knowing he was.
In addition, Ang also received numerous talent awards from the Chinese government, which he did not list on the university’s annual conflict of interest disclosure forms.
Ang’s sentencing is expected to take place in approximately four months. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. However, the plea agreement also states that if the court wishes to sentence Ang to a sentence that is not a year and a day in federal prison, Ang will have the right to withdraw from the plea agreement.
A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors.
Ang was indicted by a federal grand jury in July 2020 on multiple fraud counts. He had been a UA professor and researcher since 1988 until he was fired on July 2, 2020.