A former UCLA physics professor has agreed to plead guilty to a federal fraud charge and pay nearly $1.7 million in penalties for submitting fraudulent invoices related to nanotechnology research he was performing for the federal government, prosecutors announced last week.
Dr. Alfred Wong, 75, of Westwood, was charged Thursday in Los Angeles federal court with making a false claim to the government, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. The charge carries a possible prison sentence of up to five years.
Federal prosecutors filed a plea agreement in the criminal case and an agreement to settle a potential civil lawsuit. In those documents, Wong agreed to plead guilty to the federal fraud offense and pay almost $1.7 million in fines, restitution and damages to the government and UCLA.
A longtime professor of physics at the university, Wong served as the director of the Plasma Physics Laboratory at UCLA as well as the director of the High Power Auroral Stimulation Observatory near Fairbanks, Alaska.
About 10 years ago, Wong and two Van Nuys companies he founded—Non-Linear Ion Dynamics Inc. and the International Foundation for Science, Health, and the Environment—entered into a series of contracts worth more than $25 million with the government to research the feasibility of nanotechnology batteries for defense applications and to conduct ionospheric research at HIPAS, prosecutors said.
Wong also founded and controlled Alfred Wong Technologies, a Beverly Hills-based company he established to manage various patent rights.
Prosecutors allege in court documents that Wong created fictitious invoices at AWT that claimed AWT had manufactured and sold to NID certain nanotechnology components. Fraudulent invoices totaling $160,000 were then submitted to the Defense Department for payment, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Wong also caused IFSHE and NID to submit false vouchers to the Department of Interior for improvements on his privately owned land as well as equipment and labor costs unrelated to the government contract, federal prosecutors allege.
Wong is expected to appear for arraignment June 6.