Reedley lab owner indicted in federal court

Jia Bei Zhu hit with charges of distributing misbranded medical kits and lying to federal authorities

Shot of “DO NOT ENTER” sign from left view. Showroom is shown in the background (Kenny Goodman)
Mid Valley Times Staff
Published November 18, 2023  • 
10:30 am

FRESNO – A federal grand jury in Fresno indicted Jia Bei Zhu – the man tied to Universal Meditech, Inc. (UMI), Prestige Biotech, Inc. (PBI), and the illegal lab discovered last December in Reedley – on three criminal counts, including distributing adulterated and misbranded medical devices and for making false statements to federal officials.

The indictment came out on Nov. 16, two days after the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party presented its final report on its investigation into the illegal Reedley lab.

Zhu, 62, who also went by the aliases Jesse Zhu, Qiang He, and David He, has been in jail since October, after he was arrested by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agents in a sting operation conducted outside the warehouse on 850 I Street, where the lab was housed. 

According to the press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of California, if convicted, Zhu faces three years in prison and a $250,000 fine for disturbing the medical devices, as well as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine for making false statements to FDA officials.

UMI and PBI sold hundreds of thousands of COVID-19 tests throughout the U.S. According to the release, the companies never received “pre-market approval, pre-market clearance, emergency use authorization, or other applicable exemption from the FDA as was required. UMI received millions of dollars for the sales of these test kits.”

The release states that when Zhu was questioned by FDA officials, he made false statements, including providing officials with a false name – Qiang “David” He. He also lied to officials regarding his relationship to UMI and PRI, claiming he had been hired by the companies as a COVID-19 consultant. 

Zhu also claimed he had been hired by PBI only weeks prior to meeting with the FDA; that he was to serve as a sort of liaison between the company and the government agencies investigating PBI. Lastly, Zhu claimed he knew nothing about either PBI’s or UMI’s manufacturing or distribution histories.

THE COMMITTEE’S REPORT

On Nov. 14, the Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party released its report on the illegal lab discovered last December in Reedley. Congress Members Kevin McCarthy and Jim Costa were present during the presentation.

While the report contained many facts already in the public domain, it revealed new information about Zhu and his possible connection to the Chinese government.

According to the report, Zhu served as a corporate officer on military organizations within the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and private organizations affiliated with or partially controlled by the Chinese government. Before coming to the U.S., Zhu was first in Canada. While there, he formed dozens of companies that engaged in massive theft of American intellectual property. 

Also according to the report, by Zhu’s own admission, the theft of U.S. intellectual property was done to benefit PRC-affiliated companies and to meet the stated demands of the “PRC premier.”

Mid Valley Times Staff