Former University of Kentucky Professor Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud
LEXINGTON—Dongping “Daniel” Tao, a former mining engineering professor at the University of Kentucky, admitted in federal court today that he defrauded the University out of tens of thousands of dollars, in items and services.
Tao, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, before U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell. Tao also admitted that he defrauded Georgia-Pacific, LLC, a private company for whom he worked as a consultant.
Tao acknowledged that he received grant money from the University that was intended for research, on behalf of the College of Engineering, but Tao used the money for his consulting business, paying for travel, materials, and services. Tao then sought payment from his consulting clients, as reimbursement for expenses that he had actually used the University’s money to pay.
Tao also admitted that he fabricated and altered invoices, to show fictitious costs, and submitted those invoices to the University and Georgia-Pacific for payment. Tao then received payment for these fraudulent expenses.
According to his plea agreement, between 2010 and 2013, Tao fraudulently obtained $59,411.86 from the University and $2,280.00 from Georgia-Pacific.
Kerry B. Harvey, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and Howard Marshall, Special Agent in Charge, FBI, jointly announced the guilty plea.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, the UK Police Department, and the UK Internal Audit Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew T. Boone represents the federal government in this case.
Tao is scheduled to be sentenced on June 11, 2015 at 10:30 a.m.. He faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years and a maximum fine of $250,000. However, any sentence will be imposed by the Court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statutes.