Chinese national Zaosong Zheng, accused of stealing biological material from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, pleads guilty to making false statements

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A Chinese national pleaded guilty Thursday in federal court in Boston to making false statements in connection with the theft of 21 vials of biological material from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Zaosong Zheng, 31, pleaded guilty to one count of false, fictitious or fraudulent statements, according to the Office of the United States Attorney Andrew Lelling.

The charges against Zheng constitute one of the three cases Federal prosecutors said they were part of a “massive, long-term campaign to steal American technology.”

US customs officials have designated Zheng as “high risk” for potentially exporting undeclared biological material, according to court documents. Authorities said Zheng attempted to smuggle the vials out of the country.

Zheng entered the United States on a J-1 visa in August 2018 and conducted cancer cell research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston from September 4, 2018 to December 9, 2019, authorities said.

Prosecutors said Zheng stole the vials from Boston Hospital on December 9, 2019. Officers intercepted Zheng before he boarded the plane and asked if he was carrying any biological material, what he denied.

Officers then found 21 vials, which were wrapped in plastic bags and concealed in a sock, authorities said. The vials contained a brown liquid and included labels and handwritten notes.

“Zheng said he intended to bring the vials to China to use them for conducting research in his own laboratory and publishing the results under his own name,” authorities said.

Zheng’s sentencing is scheduled for January 6, 2021.

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