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  5. Operator of Central California Bio-Lab Indicted for Distributing Adulterated and Misbranded COVID-19 Tests and Lying to Authorities
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Operator of Central California Bio-Lab Indicted for Distributing Adulterated and Misbranded COVID-19 Tests and Lying to Authorities

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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California 

Thursday, November 16, 2023

FRESNO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment today against Jia Bei Zhu, aka Jesse Zhu, Qiang He, and David He, 62, a citizen of China who formerly resided in Clovis, charging him with distributing adulterated and misbranded medical devices in violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act and for making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.

According to court documents, between January 2020 and March 2023, through the companies Universal Meditech Incorporated (UMI) and Prestige Biotech Incorporated (PBI), Zhu sold hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 test kits to companies throughout the United States. UMI and PBI were based in Fresno and Reedley and did not obtain pre-market approval, pre-market clearance, emergency use authorization, or other applicable exemption from the FDA as was required. UMI and PBI received millions of dollars for the sales of the test kits.

When questioned by FDA officials, Zhu made several false statements to them, including that (1) his name was Qiang “David” He, (2) he was hired by UMI as a COVID-19 consultant in 2021, (3) he was hired by PBI just a couple of weeks prior to meeting with the FDA to communicate with government agencies on PBI’s behalf, and (4) he did not know anything about the manufacturing or distribution histories for UMI or PBI.

This case is the product of an investigation by the FDA Office of Criminal Investigations with assistance from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Public Health – Food and Drug Branch. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph D. Barton, Arelis M. Clemente, and Henry Z. Carbajal III are prosecuting this case.

If convicted, Zhu faces a maximum statutory penalty of three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the adulterated and misbranding of medical devices charges, and five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the false statements charge. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.


USAO - California, Eastern

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