FDA chemist gets five years in prison for insider trading

Liang ordered to forfeit more than $3.7 million

March 5 (Bloomberg) -- A U.S. Food and Drug Administration chemist was sentenced to five years in prison for using his access to the agency’s drug-approval process to make $3.78 million in an insider-trading scheme.

Cheng Yi Liang, who worked for the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Deborah Chasanow in Greenbelt, Maryland, after pleading guilty last year to one count of securities fraud and one count of making false statements, Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said in an interview.

Liang was also ordered to forfeit more than $3.7 million, Murphy said. The government had been seeking a sentence at the “high end” of the guidelines range of 57 to 71 months, according to court papers.

From July 2006 to March 2011, Liang bought and sold stock in more than 25 companies based on inside information from the FDA, according to a charging document.

As part of his plea, Liang agreed to forfeit more than $3.7 million in bank and brokerage accounts and property, including his home in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Liang’s lawyer, Joseph Evans, didn’t immediately respond to e-mails seeking comment on the sentencing. Liang resigned from the FDA on Sept. 9.

Liang and his son Andrew were initially charged in March 2011 with conspiracy, wire fraud and securities fraud.

Andrew Liang was sentenced to one year in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography found in the course of the fraud investigation. He must also register as a sex offender.

The securities case against Andrew Liang was dismissed at the request of prosecutors.

The cases are U.S. v. Chen Yi Liang, 11-cr-0530, and U.S. v. Andrew Liang, 11-cr-00501, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Greenbelt).

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