Federal prosecutors want to freeze the assets of embattled GenPhar owner Jian-Yun Dong and his biotech company to make sure the government can recoup some $3.6 million in grant money he is accused of stealing.
Prosecutors are seeking a restraining order to keep Dong and his Mount Pleasant company from transferring or disposing of cash and property ahead of his upcoming trial on federal fraud and theft charges.
In court papers, prosecutors cited Dong's recent transfer of two 40-acre tracts in Alabama to his daughter's name.
Dong said he transferred that property to his daughter to ensure that she had money to pay for college. Prosecutors noted, however, that Dong's daughter already had nearly $260,000 in assets at her disposal.
Dong said he intends to fight the government's request, insisting that it is part of a witch hunt against him. He insists prosecutors are trying to financially hobble him and destroy his disease-fighting firm over what he considers to be harmless errors and bookkeeping issues.
"They are trying to take away my means to defend myself and shut down my company, killing jobs, before even allowing a chance for due process to take place," Dong said today. "This is persecution, not prosecution."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Beth Drake declined to comment on Dong's assertions, saying prosecutors have a policy against discussing pending cases.
Dong, 54, is accused of fraudulently diverting money intended for research on vaccines for the deadly Ebola and Marburg viruses. A 36-count indictment, unsealed in September, alleges that he used that money to pay for lobbying, construction on GenPhar's new $33 million headquarters on Morgan Point Road and other unallowed expenses.
A new, superseding indictment names GenPhar as a defendant in the criminal case, further clouding the company's future.
Read more later at postandcourier.com and also in tomorrow's newspaper.