SACRAMENTO (CBS SF) — A federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment Thursday against against former UC Davis researcher Juan Tang charging her with visa fraud and making false statements to the FBI, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.
According to court documents, Tang is alleged to have possessed a non-immigrant J-1 visa that she obtained by making false statements during the application process about her military service.
When later interviewed by FBI agents, Tang also made false statements about her military service. Specifically, it is alleged that Tang is a current member of the Chinese military and falsely claimed that she had not served in the military.
Tang, who has a doctorate in cellular biology, entered the United States on Dec. 27, 2019, to work at the University of California, Davis. The university hired her as a visiting researcher in the Department of Radiation Oncology wrote Alexandra Negin, an assistant federal public defender, in a filing last week that asked the court for Tang’s release on bail.
Negin said Tang left her job in June as a visiting researcher at UC, Davis’ Department of Radiation Oncology because her lab was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. She planned to return to China.
Federal agents found photographs of Tang in a uniform of the civilian cadre of China’s PLA and also reviewed articles from China that identified her military affiliation.
But Negin argued the evidence against Tang is based on old photographs from when she was a student at a medical school run by the military and documents that were translated on apps.
“That does not mean that she was ‘in the military,” Negin wrote.
Tang was arrested after she left the San Francisco Chinese consulate to seek medical treatment for her asthma as part of a nationwide crackdown on Chinese military personnel who had illegally entered the United States.
Tang and three other scientists living in the U.S. face charges of lying about their status as members of China’s People’s Liberation Army. All were charged with visa fraud, the Justice Department said.
If convicted of visa fraud, Tang faces a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted of making false statements, Tang faces a maximum statutory penalty of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.