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Ex-ISU Scientist Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison

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[posted as a regular member]

This is a rare and rather stunning punishment for academic research fraud. This guy faces deportation, too. After reading the full story, please comment (from a lay or scientific standpoint).

Ex-ISU Scientist Sentenced to 57 Months in Prison

Tony Leys, tleys@dmreg.com

5:52 p.m. CDT July 1, 2015

A former Iowa State University scientist whose fraudulent research cost the government millions of dollars was sentenced Wednesday to four years and nine months in federal prison.

Dong-Pyou Han, 58, admitted he faked results in AIDS-vaccine experiments, whose supposed success drew up to $20 million in extra federal grants. The case has made waves nationally, because it's rare for a scientist to face criminal charges for fraudulent research — and even rarer for one to go to prison for it.

U.S. District Judge James Gritzner said he believed Han was an otherwise good man who "made a terribly tragic decision, over and over again." The judge said he didn't fear Han would commit more crimes if granted probation instead of prison.

However, Gritzner said, "the court cannot get beyond the breach of the sacred trust in this kind of research. ... The seriousness of this offense is just stunning."

The slight scientist, who was dressed in a gray suit, sat quietly through most of the proceedings, listening to a Korean-language interpreter. At one point, Han stood to read a statement to the judge in halting English.

"I deeply regret any and all misconduct," he said. "... I meant no harm to anyone."

National bioethics expert Arthur Caplan said later Wednesday that prison sentences for academic fraud are "exceedingly rare, bordering on unheard of."

Caplan, who teaches at New York University, applauded the prosecution and said in an interview that he expects the outcome to fuel discussion on how to prevent such dishonesty.

"I think the message will rip through the scientific community that the ante has been upped," he said.

Full story continues here:

http://www.press-citizen.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2015/07/01/dong-pyou-han-sentencing-iowa-state-scientist-aids-vaccine-fraud-case/29560297/


06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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Good. Fraud is fraud and every time someone pulls something like this, it hurts the entire academic community and makes it harder for everyone to get funding. Grants are drying up left right and centre and someone pulling something like this makes it harder to get the grants that are needed to continue avenues of research that are possible. For example, Cho, the researcher this man worked with, is still working on vaccines, especially ones for HIV and now his work will be dismissed much more easily, things that show some hope but need more development will be dismissed just because he was the one who found them.


Met in 2010 on a forum for a mutual interest. Became friends.
2011: Realized we needed to evaluate our status as friends when we realized we were talking about raising children together.

2011/2012: Decided we were a couple sometime in, but no possibility of being together due to being same sex couple.

June 26, 2013: DOMA overturned. American married couples ALL have the same federal rights at last! We can be a family!

June-September, 2013: Discussion about being together begins.

November 13, 2013: Meet in person to see if this could work. It's perfect. We plan to elope to Boston, MA.

March 13, 2014 Married!

May 9, 2014: Petition mailed to USCIS

May 12, 2014: NOA1.
October 27, 2014: NOA2. (5 months, 2 weeks, 1 day after NOA1)
October 31, 2014: USCIS ships file to NVC (five days after NOA2) Happy Halloween for us!

November 18, 2014: NVC receives our case (22 days after NOA2)

December 17, 2014: NVC generates case number (50 days after NOA2)

December 19, 2014: Receive AOS bill, DS-261. Submit DS-261 (52 days after NOA2)

December 20, 2014: Pay AOS Fee

January 7, 2015: Receive, pay IV Fee

January 10, 2015: Complete DS-260

January 11, 2015: Send AOS package and Civil Documents
March 23, 2015: Case Complete at NVC. (70 days from when they received docs to CC)

May 6, 2015: Interview at Montréal APPROVED!

May 11, 2015: Visa in hand! One year less one day from NOA1.

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On the bright side they are testing an oral vaccine for AIDS that is very promising..

The last big scandal I remember years ago was also a Korean researcher - faked a bunch of stem cell results..


I don't believe it.. Prove it to me and I still won't believe it. -Ford Prefect

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Perhaps Cho's pending and future work will be scrutinized even more than usual, by the granting agencies and by peer-reviewers in the journals to which he submits articles for publication.


06-04-2007 = TSC stamps postal return-receipt for I-129f.

06-11-2007 = NOA1 date (unknown to me).

07-20-2007 = Phoned Immigration Officer; got WAC#; where's NOA1?

09-25-2007 = Touch (first-ever).

09-28-2007 = NOA1, 23 days after their 45-day promise to send it (grrrr).

10-20 & 11-14-2007 = Phoned ImmOffs; "still pending."

12-11-2007 = 180 days; file is "between workstations, may be early Jan."; touches 12/11 & 12/12.

12-18-2007 = Call; file is with Division 9 ofcr. (bckgrnd check); e-prompt to shake it; touch.

12-19-2007 = NOA2 by e-mail & web, dated 12-18-07 (187 days; 201 per VJ); in mail 12/24/07.

01-09-2008 = File from USCIS to NVC, 1-4-08; NVC creates file, 1/15/08; to consulate 1/16/08.

01-23-2008 = Consulate gets file; outdated Packet 4 mailed to fiancee 1/27/08; rec'd 3/3/08.

04-29-2008 = Fiancee's 4-min. consular interview, 8:30 a.m.; much evidence brought but not allowed to be presented (consul: "More proof! Second interview! Bring your fiance!").

05-05-2008 = Infuriating $12 call to non-English-speaking consulate appointment-setter.

05-06-2008 = Better $12 call to English-speaker; "joint" interview date 6/30/08 (my selection).

06-30-2008 = Stokes Interrogations w/Ecuadorian (not USC); "wait 2 weeks; we'll mail her."

07-2008 = Daily calls to DOS: "currently processing"; 8/05 = Phoned consulate, got Section Chief; wrote him.

08-07-08 = E-mail from consulate, promising to issue visa "as soon as we get her passport" (on 8/12, per DHL).

08-27-08 = Phoned consulate (they "couldn't find" our file); visa DHL'd 8/28; in hand 9/1; through POE on 10/9 with NO hassles(!).

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Perhaps Cho's pending and future work will be scrutinized even more than usual, by the granting agencies and by peer-reviewers in the journals to which he submits articles for publication.

It will be. And the problem with that is that grants are INCREDIBLY hard to get. Literally the difference between getting a scientific grant or not can be the difference of two words in a very short space that you're meant to fill in, or someone on a granting agency board not liking your background--which can mean who you studied under. Science is VERY political.

So yes, he'll be subject to much more scrutiny by granting agencies. Which means if the bar is ten feet high for everyone else, he has to clear a 20 foot bar jut to be considered. His ideas will no longer be considered on the merit of his ideas. They'll be considered on the merit of a fraud who defrauded him, as well. Han's fraud is now a stain on Cho's record, one that he will never overcome. In all likelihood, Cho will have to have other people take credit for many of his ideas just to get grant committees to so much as LOOK at his applications, let alone accept them.

Cho didn't do anything wrong. He trusted someone to do their job. The person in charge of a lab, having gone over the procedure of another scientist's work and having ensured that they understood that procedure and were qualified to do so, cannot possibly literally watch every single test or trial carried out with his own eyes. He had no reason to distrust Han's work, assuming that Han hadn't been defrauding him. The person in charge of a lab often has to travel for various reasons and may be out of the lab for weeks while the other people working in the lab are meant to be doing trials.

I'm very glad that Han is going to prison. I feel badly for Cho. His work will suffer from this.


Met in 2010 on a forum for a mutual interest. Became friends.
2011: Realized we needed to evaluate our status as friends when we realized we were talking about raising children together.

2011/2012: Decided we were a couple sometime in, but no possibility of being together due to being same sex couple.

June 26, 2013: DOMA overturned. American married couples ALL have the same federal rights at last! We can be a family!

June-September, 2013: Discussion about being together begins.

November 13, 2013: Meet in person to see if this could work. It's perfect. We plan to elope to Boston, MA.

March 13, 2014 Married!

May 9, 2014: Petition mailed to USCIS

May 12, 2014: NOA1.
October 27, 2014: NOA2. (5 months, 2 weeks, 1 day after NOA1)
October 31, 2014: USCIS ships file to NVC (five days after NOA2) Happy Halloween for us!

November 18, 2014: NVC receives our case (22 days after NOA2)

December 17, 2014: NVC generates case number (50 days after NOA2)

December 19, 2014: Receive AOS bill, DS-261. Submit DS-261 (52 days after NOA2)

December 20, 2014: Pay AOS Fee

January 7, 2015: Receive, pay IV Fee

January 10, 2015: Complete DS-260

January 11, 2015: Send AOS package and Civil Documents
March 23, 2015: Case Complete at NVC. (70 days from when they received docs to CC)

May 6, 2015: Interview at Montréal APPROVED!

May 11, 2015: Visa in hand! One year less one day from NOA1.

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Accountability is a good thing.


Sent I-129 Application to VSC 2/1/12
NOA1 2/8/12
RFE 8/2/12
RFE reply 8/3/12
NOA2 8/16/12
NVC received 8/27/12
NVC left 8/29/12
Manila Embassy received 9/5/12
Visa appointment & approval 9/7/12
Arrived in US 10/5/2012
Married 11/24/2012
AOS application sent 12/19/12

AOS approved 8/24/13

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