A charge of economic espionage against a former Medical College of Wisconsin researcher was dropped Thursday, replaced by an indictment for attempting to damage and delete information from the Wauwatosa college’s computer servers and lying to the FBI about it.
Hua Jun Zhao, 42, faces up to 10 years in prison for attempting to damage a federally protected computer, and up to 5 years for making false statements to the FBI.
According to the indictment, Zhao was being investigated for the theft of an anti-cancer compound from a controlled environment at the Medical College in late February. He told investigators on March 1 that he had not tried to access the college’s servers to delete files related to the stolen compound.
The indictment claims Zhao did indeed attempt to access the server on Feb. 27.
According to the Biz Times of Milwaukee, Zhao had been charged originally with stealing three bottles of the compound, worth about $8,000, along with related research data. Those charges were dismissed by the FBI in favor of the new indictment.
A release from U.S. Attorney James Santelle indicated that “investigation into the ultimate disposition of the stolen compound and the ultimate intended use of the proprietary information stolen from the Medical College and transported overseas is continuing.”