A federal jury deadlocked Friday on a Charleston biomedical researcher who was accused of fraudulently misusing a grant for Ebola vaccines.
The jury could not reach a verdict on fraud or conspiracy charges against Dr. Jian-Yun “John” Dong after a 10-day trial, according to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. That means the case ended in a mistrial. Prosecutors have not said if they will try again with a new jury. The jury did return guilty verdicts for theft of government property and more than a dozen wire fraud counts against GenPhar and Vaxima, two firms that Dong founded but have since closed.
Federal prosecutors accused Dong of misusing $3.6 million in federal grant money that was intended for research for vaccines for the Ebola and Marburg viruses. A 2011 indictment claimed the researcher instead used the money to pay for construction of a planned $33 million headquarters in Mount Pleasant and other improper expenses.
He was also convicted of illegally contributing $31,000 to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s campaign in March. Prosecutors said Dong tried to get around campaign finance laws by channeling his funds through other individuals to get around a $5,000 donation limit. He had not yet been sentenced on those charges, as the fraud trial was still pending.
GenPhar had previously announced it planned to build a $33 million headquarters in Mount Pleasant that would employ more than 300 people. However, construction fell behind. The Post & Courier reported that Dong blamed the city for the construction delays.
District Judge C. Weston Houck presided over the trial.