Espionage charge dropped in cancer drug theft case

MILWAUKEE A researcher accused of stealing a possible cancer-fighting compound from the Medical College of Wisconsin has been indicted on two counts.

Online court records say 42-year-old Hua Jun Zhao was indicted Tuesday on charges of computer fraud and lying to a federal agent.

A previous charge of economic espionage was superseded by the indictment, meaning it no longer applies unless he's indicted on that charge as well.

Zhao had been charged with espionage after prosecutors alleged he stole details of a cancer-fighting compound that he wanted to share with China.

An early complaint said investigators found several hundred items related to research on Zhao's computer. Authorities found a grant application he had written in Mandarin, claiming he discovered the compound and was seeking Chinese funding to continue research.

Now Zhao is accused of stealing three vials of the compound along with academic research that he is accused of planning to pass off as his own. Prosecutors say also he tried to delete research from the school's servers.

He'll be arraigned Thursday afternoon in Milwaukee. Public defender Juval Scott says she'll enter not-guilty pleas on his behalf to the fraud and lying charges.