Prosecutors Charge Researcher With Lying To Government - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Prosecutors Charge Researcher With Lying To Government

AKRON, Ohio (AP) - A Japanese scientist accused of stealing research material from the Cleveland Clinic was charged Tuesday with making false statements to the government.

Hiroaki Serizawa, a researcher at the University of Kansas Medical Center, and his friend and former Cleveland Clinic scientist Takashi Okamoto are accused of stealing biological materials used for research on Alzheimer's disease.

Serizawa, 40, of Kansas City, Kan., and Okamoto already face two counts of conspiracy to violate the economic espionage act, interstate transportation of stolen property and making false statements to the government. Both have pleaded innocent.

A hearing on the new charge against Serizawa is scheduled for Wednesday before U.S. District Judge David Dowd Jr. The charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Prosecutors said Serizawa took the material for the benefit of his new employers at a government-funded Japanese research center.

The government told a grand jury that the biological materials were trade secrets, but said in court later that it was the process by which the materials were produced that was secret.

Serizawa's trial is scheduled to begin May 13. It is the first criminal prosecution by the U.S. Department of Justice under a 1996 law intended to prevent the theft of trade secrets by foreign governments.

No trial date is set for Okamoto, who is living in Japan.

Federal officials are pursuing his extradition, assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Edwards said.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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