ArkLight Owners Convicted of Defrauding NASA
ArkLight founders, Yujie Ding and Yuiya Zotova, have been sentenced to a year and a day in prison by U.S. District Court Judge Harvey Bartle III. This is on grounds that the startup owners had been defrauding NASA. Zotova and Ding had allegedly pocketed the money given by NASA for their startup.
A professor at Lehigh University, Ding had allegedly told NASA that their startup company, ArkLight, would develop a cutting-edge sensor that would be used to track climate change. Yet, the owners reportedly used the company "as a front to funnel federal grant money to themselves for research performed by students and others."
Ding and Zotova had defrauded NASA by allowing graduate students along with researchers to do the work for their $700,000 project. One of the researchers tasked to work on the sensor even added that he had never met Zotova and that during the first phase of the project, one student did all of the work.
Based on reports, the pair had submitted proposals to NASA asking for funding from August 2009 to July 2010. ArkLight was reportedly doing research and was subcontracting the work to Lehigh University.
"It's clear from the evidence heard in this trial that Dr. Ding lied repeatedly to his employer, Lehigh University, which was a dupe in this case," stated assistant US attorney Elizabeth Abrams.
In addition to the year and a day in prison, Ding has been ordered to pay a restitution of $72,000 and a fine of $3,000. On the other hand, Ding's co-startup founder and wife, Zotova, has been sentenced to three months imprisonment.
The couple has officially been convicted on five counts of wire fraud. Despite the sentence, Ding is determined to clear his name.
"I know my family went through a lot and I apologize to my family. I am more determined than ever to continue my career," stated Ding.