Former Professor at UC Irvine Caught Selling Secrets to Japan (CA Government Code Section 83116)

59-year-old (name withheld in order to protect privacy) was sentenced in the Orange County Superior Court to 3 years and $4,000,000 in fines and restitution costs. The professor in question is originally from Japan and was caught accepting payments secretively for the research he was conducting at the university.

It’s an interesting case, mainly because we don’t often think of it as a crime to make a little extra money on the side.  However, because UC Irvine was funding the research and because he was an employee of the university while conducting it, it is considered a serious conflict of interest.  And, if the university funded his work, then as a public institution, it was actually the state of California who provided the money, a further conflict of interest and a breach of professional ethics.

The situation exploded in 2009 (though he was not arrested until 2012) when a whistle-blower accused him of misconduct, reporting him to the appropriate organizations.  He has now admitted to receiving more than $7,500 in secret funds from a company known as KDDI Incorporated.  Research materials that were sold included using biological molecules in conjunction with computerized systems.  He has also been mandated to pay $14,000 in settlement money to UC Irvine (Political Reform Act of 1974, and the Fair Political Practices Commission, specifically (CA Government Code Section 83116).