February 6, 2019
Officers and Operators of New York Research Firms Sentenced for Defrauding the Federal Government
On February 6, 2019, Bin (Ben) Wen, chief scientist and vice president of United Environment & Energy, LLC (UEE) and operator of Advanced Technologies and Materials, LLC, and his wife, Peng Zhang, UEE’s president, were sentenced in U.S. District Court, Rochester, New York. Wen was sentenced to 33 months’ imprisonment followed by 3 years’ supervised release and a $200 special court assessment. Peng Zhang was sentenced to 5 years’ probation, including 6 months’ home detention, and a $100 special court assessment. The judge also sentenced Wen and Zhang to $5.5 million in joint restitution, which was paid with forfeited assets, including bank and investment accounts, real estate, currency, jewelry, and a Mercedes Benz. On February 2, 2018, Wen pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and money laundering, and Zhang pleaded guilty to conspiracy.
The investigation revealed that between approximately June 2010 and December 2015, through their various business entities, Wen and Zhang fraudulently obtained approximately $8.4 million in Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer contract and grant funds distributed by the Department of Energy (DOE), National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Agriculture (USDA). They submitted fraudulent applications, proposals, and financial reports and misrepresented their positions at and the work performed by their related businesses. The investigation also identified fraudulent submissions on a contract valued at nearly $1 million for FHWA’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program.
DOT-OIG conducted this investigation with NSF-OIG, Internal Revenue Service–Criminal Investigation Division, DOE-OIG, and USDA-OIG. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of New York prosecuted the case.