Arkansas scientist pleads in rice seed theft case

Gavel (KSN News)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) – A 61-year-old scientist has pleaded guilty to a federal charge nearly three years after he was accused of stealing proprietary rice seeds developed in the U.S. and giving them to a visiting delegation from China.

The Justice Department said Wednesday in a release that Wengui Yan, of Stuttgart, Arkansas, pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Kansas to one count of making false statements to the FBI.

Yan, who worked as a geneticist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the Dale Bumpers National Research Center in Stuttgart, was originally charged in December 2013 along with Weiqiang Zhang, a Kansas scientist, of conspiracy to steal trade secrets and theft of trade secrets.

According to the plea, Yan admitted knowing about plans to steal rice samples and send them to China.