FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE/KSEE) – A Chinese citizen who was arrested for his alleged connection to the illegal lab in Reedley was formally indicted in federal court on Thursday.
The federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment on Thursday against Jia Bei Zhu, aka Jesse Zhu, Qiang He, and David He, 62. He is being charged with distributing adulterated and misbranded medical devices – and for making false statements to the Food and Drug Administration.
On Oct. 20, Zhu – presenting himself in court as David He – was present via Zoom in Federal Court from the Fresno County Jail in an orange suit and bandages all over his face for an arraignment. On Oct. 24, Zhu was present once again in federal court and pleaded not guilty to the charges.
According to the Department of Justice (DOJ) 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 exemptions from the FDA as was required.
The DOJ says when Zhu was questioned by FDA officials, Zhu made several false statements to them, including that his name was Qiang “David” He, he was hired by UMI as a COVID-19 consultant in 2021, 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 he did not know anything about the manufacturing or distribution histories for UMI or PBI.
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, according to the DOJ.