Federal investigators have announced an arrest in the illegal Reedley biolab case that made national headlines in July.
Jia Bei Zhu, who also goes by the names Jesse Zhu, Qiang He, and David He, was arrested Thursday on a criminal complaint for manufacturing and distributing medical devices in violation of the federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. He also allegedly made false statements to the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.
Zhu is a former Clovis resident. He was arrested in Reedley, a DOJ spokesperson said.
“As part of his scheme, the defendant changed his name, the names of his companies, and their locations,” U.S. Attorney Phillip Talbert said. “The disarray at the Reedley lab led to the glare of publicity he was trying to avoid, and the ensuing investigation unraveled his efforts to circumvent the requirements that are designed to ensure that medical devices are safe and effective.”
Between December 2020 and March 2023, Universal Meditech Inc. and Prestige Biotech Inc., with which Zhu was connected, imported, sold, and distributed COVID-19 test kits and pregnancy test kits at their lab in south central Fresno.
COVID Test Kits Weren’t Authorized
But neither company received required authorizations to manufacture test kits, investigators say.
When questioned by FDA officials, investigators say Zhu made false statements about his identity, his ownership, and control of the two companies, as well as their activities.
The FDA issued a recall on UMI’s COVID-19 test kits in February.
Manufacturing COVID test kits requires an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA. Because of major deficiencies in UMI’s test studies, the company never received one, according to the DOJ.
During the investigation, Zhu told officials he was hired as a COVID-19 consultant in 2021. He also said Prestige Biotech had hired him to communicate with governmental agencies regarding the biological materials discovered at the Reedley lab.
If convicted, Zhu could face three years in prison for misbranding medical devices and five more years for making false statements.