A Delaware man pled guilty to intentionally making false claims and payment requests to U.S. agencies through his technology company based out of Wilmington, U.S. Department of Justice officials announced Wednesday.
According to officials, from 2008 through 2016, Pengcheng Lv, co-owner of AlphaSense Inc., sought funds for scientific research from a number of agencies including the U.S. Department of Energy, Air Force, Navy, Army, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, National Science Foundation, and NASA.
Grant applications from LV were submitted through the highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, which "encourage domestic small businesses to engage in federal research and development that has the potential for commercialization," officials said.
He forged letters from university officials and industry professionals and included the letters in his proposals, officials said, which claimed AlphaSense had employees with "impressive experience and education," though, in reality, none of those employees ever worked for AlphaSense. He then pocketed the government-awarded funds.
Lv's claims led to a loss of between $250,000 and $500,000, officials said.
He pled guilty to wire fraud specifically for false representations to the U.S. Air Force, and has additionally agreed as part of his guilty plea to enter into a civil settlement to pay $700,000 to the government for violations of the False Claims Act.
Lv faces a maximum 20 years in prison and a fine equal to the greater of either $250,000 or twice the gross loss.