Charges changed for Hua Jun Zhao in espionage case

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Charges have been changed for Hua Jun Zhao -- a man once accused of espionage.

A federal criminal complaint says there is evidence 42-year-old Zhao, a Medical College researcher sent vials of a compound called C-25 to China. Investigators also found his ticket for China on April 2nd.

Zhao is accused of stealing cancer research and shipping it to China, where he allegedly intended to take the compound to a Chinese university to develop further.

A complaint says Zhao was working under Dr. Marshall Anderson at the Medical College -- researching an organic compound called C-25. The compound had promise of helping drugs destroy cancer cells, while not harming healthy cells.

An FBI agent says Dr. Anderson left three bottles of C-25 on his desk, and left the room for a moment. The three bottles were gone when he returned. Surveillance video shows Zhao entering the office during that time in late February.

Examining Zhao's personal computer, officials discovered hundreds of items related to Dr. Anderson's research on C-25. There was also a grant application written by Zhao in Mandarin Chinese, asking for Chinese funding to continue his research.

That wasn't all. When officials started questioning Zhao, Medical College security discovered Zhao had remote access to the Medical College computer service and began deleting items related to the C-25 research, including Dr. Anderson's original raw data.

Fortunately, the Medical College was able to restore the deleted files, or they say years of research would have been destroyed. When questioned about that, the criminal complaint says Zhao claimed he did not understand, but others who worked with him at the Medical College said he spoke excellent English and lived in the U.S. for many years.

When first arrested, Zhao was charged with economic espionage. New court documents show he is now charged with computer fraud and lying to a federal agent.