Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Judge Keeps Reedley Biolab Suspect in Jail. Was Operation Just a Warehouse?
gvw_david_taub
By David Taub, Senior Reporter
Published 1 month ago on
April 25, 2024

The Reedley Biolab suspect known as Jia Bei Zhu appeared in court Wednesday. (GV Wire Composite/Paul Marshall)

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The suspect accused of running an illicit biolab in Reedley with ties to China will remain in custody a federal judge ruled Wednesday.

Officially listed in the court docket as Jia Bei Zhu, U.S. Magistrate Judge Erica Grosjean denied a motion for bail. Zhu has been in custody since his October 2023 arrest, with a judge last November initially denying release.

Zhu appeared in a red jumpsuit, with “prisoner” labeled on the back. His hair was short and graying on the sides. He wore glasses.

“It’s difficult for one magistrate to overturn another magistrate that has already made a decision. And the court didn’t feel there was enough evidence presented to overturn the prior decision. That’s fine. We’ll appeal,” Zhu’s attorney, Tony Capozzi, said after court.

Zhu faces two counts of distribution of adulterated and misbranded medical devices and one count of making false statements to the government.

He returns to court for a May 22 status hearing.

The prosecution declined to comment.

Not a Lab, Just a Warehouse: Capozzi

The case started when a Reedley code enforcement agent serendipitously noticed a hose emerging from a building in December 2022.

Capozzi challenged the government’s belief that Zhu and his companies operated a biolab, where blood and other fluid samples and 1,000 lab mice were stored. Investigators found several potentially infectious bacterial agents including E. coli, HIV, and malaria.

The attorney said the government calling the facility a biolab is “absolutely wrong.”

“The Reedley warehouse was not a lab. It was a place to store everything from the lab in Fresno, because the lease had run out that had been terminated. They moved everything to Reedley to complete the new lab in Fresno. They’ve paid over $150,000 for the new lab. And then when he was arrested, everything was terminated,” Capozzi said after court.

Zhu’s company, Universal Meditech Inc./Prestige Biotech, Inc., planned to lease a building north of Fresno Yosemite International airport. After news broke of the Reedley lab, the city of Fresno declined to issue a certificate of occupancy.

The seven-year lease with landlord Ford Tetra Partners, JV called for UMI to pay $14,313 a month, with a $100,000 security deposit.

Who is Zhu?

Attorneys argued about the mystery around Zhu’s true name. Capozzi said Zhu changed his name in China to Qiang He (pronounced “Her”). Court documents revealed Zhu filed a name change application in August 2021 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, wishing to be known as David He.

The government alleges that Zhu used the name David He to obtain a Social Security card, employment authorization, and California ID card.

In court filings, the government said Zhu moved from China to Canada in 1988, living there until 2014. He had Canadian citizenship, a driver’s license with a Vancouver, British Columbia address, and a Canadian passport.

He entered the United States after civil legal troubles in the north. Previous stories reported Zhu’s company, IND Diagnostic Inc., faced a $330 million civil judgment for technology theft related to bull semen.

In February 2021, he applied for asylum in the U.S. out of a “fear of persecution if he returns to China,” using the name of Qiang He. Federal prosecutors said he used his Chinese passport in support of the application.

Capozzi would not elaborate why Zhu is seeking asylum.

A Flight Risk?

In court, federal prosecutor Henry Carbajal argued that Zhu presented a flight risk. There were questions about his name, inconsistencies with documents and what he told Pre-Trial Services, what assets Zhu had access to, and no family members living in the U.S.

Carbajal said Zhu had a “lack of forthrightness” with federal officials conducting the investigation.

Zhaoyan Wang, who is Zhu’s business partner and mother of his baby son, left the country in September 2023, just days after federal authorities issued warrants. Prosecution and the defense argued over the timeline of when Wang purchased the one-ay ticket to China — for herself, her son, and her mother.

Court documents show Wang purchased the China Southern Airlines tickets on Sept. 3 for a Sept. 20 flight. Even if the tickets were bought before the warrants, Carbajal argued, the investigation was underway.

“You think they would stay,” Carbajal told the judge.

Capozzi told GV Wire that Wang would like to return but cannot.

“Would you come back with what they are doing to Mr. He now? I would love to have her come back. She wants to come back. But she’s afraid of what the government will do. She lives in China and she’s worried about what happens with her there if his asylum application becomes public. We’re concerned about her safety in China,” Capozzi said.

In a declaration filed with the court, Wang said she intended to purchase a round-trip ticket from China back to the United States.

Prosecutors argued that because Zhu has family outside the United States — an ex-wife and children live in Canada, and a brother lives in New Zealand, he is a flight risk.

The two sides also argued about how much time Zhu could possibly serve. Capozzi said the maximum would be up to 27 months, and he already served seven.

Carbajal countered Zhu faces up to 70 months, although four years are more likely.

“I really questioned where the prosecution was coming up with those numbers,” Capozzi said.

Using China-Funded Property as Collateral?

Zhu set up businesses in the United States, funded by one of his companies from China — Ai De Diagnostics, listed as a medical device distribution company, the government said. The company supplied $850,000 in funding for Zhu’s Las Vegas-based company, David Destiny Discovery, LLC (3D) to purchase property.

Zhu’s attorneys offered the Las Vegas property — which serves as Zhu’s primary residence — and another 3D owned property in Clovis as collateral. The Clovis property is rented for $3,500 a month, records show.

The attorneys also argued over who really controls 3D. In her declaration, Wang said she managed the company, with the primary purpose of dealing with Nevada real estate. Prosecutors said Zhu is still listed as the legal agent of the company in Nevada corporate records, and has access to the bank accounts.

Prosecutors objected to the bail offering in court documents.

“It appears Zhu tried to hide these properties and his business assets. Given that those efforts have been unsuccessful, Zhu now characterizes the properties and businesses as belonging to others that charitably offer them for his bail. Even if this were the case, loss to 3D would not be loss to Zhu and thus is not adequate compulsion for Zhu to stay in the country and face the charges,” prosecutors wrote.

Wang also revealed in her declaration that UMI has two shareholders, Qindago, China-based Guangdi Packaging Co., Ltd. (70%), and Nevada-registered MedSauce (30%).

“I am the company manager (Managing Director). The main investment comes form China. The technology comes from China and Canada,” Wang wrote.

Attorney Kevin Little Says Civil Lawsuits Coming

Capozzi argued to no avail that several claims against the government and a forthcoming civil rights lawsuit would keep Zhu in America.

Grosjean accepted the prosecution’s argument that lawsuits can be dismissed are unlikely to motivate Zhu to stay.

Fresno attorney Kevin Little plans to file the lawsuit on Friday, both for Zhu’s companies, and as a individual, Little said.

The corporate case will revolve around violations of the 5th and 14th amendments, “not to have its property baselessly seized and destroyed,” Little said.

The civil rights lawsuit will deal with Zhu’s Oct. 19, 2023 arrest by FDA officials.

An FDA investigation report accused Zhu of resisting arrest, causing injury to Zhu.

“(Agents) were able to push Zhu forward onto his knees, and the momentum of going to his knees brought Zhu into a flat prone position on his stomach and chest on the ground in a relatively slow motion (there was no abrupt impact on the ground),” the report said.

When the agents finally cuffed Zhu, they noticed cuts to his face. The report indicated the cuts came from Zhu’s metal framed glasses and contact with the pavement.

Zhu was treated on the scene by medical personnel and taken to the hospital at his request. He would only respond to questions from federal officials and medical staff by saying “attorney,” the report said.

Capozzi said Zhu was confused because of the language difference.

He also told the court his client is “scared to death” because he is Chinese with limited English skills.

“It’s been difficult at the jail. He’s the only Chinese person out there that doesn’t speak English. It’s very difficult. Many of the people just look at him as someone different. He hasn’t been beat up, but there’s been a number of fights in his area of the jail, and he’s very concerned. But the government is not concerned about that,” Capozzi said.

Pictures of Zhu in the hospital after his arrest, with cuts to his face. (FDA)

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Former Fresno Farm Water Manager Pleads Guilty to Federal Water Theft Conspiracy

DON'T MISS

Local Dealership Family Buys Fresno Infiniti. Where Is It Going?

DON'T MISS

California Bill Would End ‘Gender Police’ Reports From Public Schools to Parents

DON'T MISS

Councilmembers Want Answers on Lawsuit. We Have Them.

DON'T MISS

Fresno Toddler Receives Support With a Donated Mobility Ramp

DON'T MISS

Fresno Catholic Diocese Will File Bankruptcy Because of Sexual Abuse Claims: Bishop Brennan

DON'T MISS

Storm Damage Forces Removal of US-Built Gaza Pier for Repairs

DON'T MISS

Lexi Thompson, a 15-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour, Is Retiring From Full-Time Golf at 29

DON'T MISS

Trump Prosecutor Emphasizes ‘Cover-Up’ in Closing Arguments; Defense Targets Key Witness

DON'T MISS

Clovis Detectives Quickly Arrest Suspects in Construction Equipment Theft at Church

UP NEXT

Local Dealership Family Buys Fresno Infiniti. Where Is It Going?

UP NEXT

Councilmembers Want Answers on Lawsuit. We Have Them.

UP NEXT

Fresno Toddler Receives Support With a Donated Mobility Ramp

UP NEXT

Fresno Catholic Diocese Will File Bankruptcy Because of Sexual Abuse Claims: Bishop Brennan

UP NEXT

Storm Damage Forces Removal of US-Built Gaza Pier for Repairs

UP NEXT

Lexi Thompson, a 15-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour, Is Retiring From Full-Time Golf at 29

UP NEXT

Clovis Detectives Quickly Arrest Suspects in Construction Equipment Theft at Church

UP NEXT

Fresno ‘Flirts’ with Hot Weather. When Will Triple Digits Arrive?

UP NEXT

Albert Ruddy, Oscar-Winning Producer of ‘the Godfather’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ Dies at 94

UP NEXT

Who Bears Some Blame for High CA Gas Prices? Look in the Mirror

David Taub,
Senior Reporter
Curiosity drives David Taub. The award-winning journalist might be shy, but feels mighty with a recorder in his hand. He doesn't see it his job to "hold public officials accountable," but does see it to provide readers (and voters) the information needed to make intelligent choices. Taub has been honored with several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. He's just happy to have his stories read. Joining GV Wire in 2016, Taub covers politics, government and elections, mainly in the Fresno/Clovis area. He also writes columns about local eateries (Appetite for Fresno), pro wrestling (Off the Bottom Rope), and media (Media Man). Prior to joining the online news source, Taub worked as a radio producer for KMJ and PowerTalk 96.7 in Fresno. He also worked as an assignment editor for KCOY-TV in Santa Maria, California, and KSEE-TV in Fresno. He has also worked behind the scenes for several sports broadcasts, including the NCAA basketball tournament, and the Super Bowl. When not spending time with his family, Taub loves to officially score Fresno Grizzlies games. Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Taub is a die-hard Giants and 49ers fan. He graduated from the University of Michigan with dual degrees in communications and political science. Go Blue! You can contact David at 559-492-4037 or at Send an Email

Councilmembers Want Answers on Lawsuit. We Have Them.

10 hours ago

Fresno Toddler Receives Support With a Donated Mobility Ramp

11 hours ago

Fresno Catholic Diocese Will File Bankruptcy Because of Sexual Abuse Claims: Bishop Brennan

12 hours ago

Storm Damage Forces Removal of US-Built Gaza Pier for Repairs

13 hours ago

Lexi Thompson, a 15-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour, Is Retiring From Full-Time Golf at 29

13 hours ago

Trump Prosecutor Emphasizes ‘Cover-Up’ in Closing Arguments; Defense Targets Key Witness

13 hours ago

Clovis Detectives Quickly Arrest Suspects in Construction Equipment Theft at Church

14 hours ago

Fresno ‘Flirts’ with Hot Weather. When Will Triple Digits Arrive?

14 hours ago

Albert Ruddy, Oscar-Winning Producer of ‘the Godfather’ and ‘Million Dollar Baby,’ Dies at 94

14 hours ago

Who Bears Some Blame for High CA Gas Prices? Look in the Mirror

14 hours ago

Former Fresno Farm Water Manager Pleads Guilty to Federal Water Theft Conspiracy

Dennis Falaschi — indicted two years ago in an alleged $25 million federal water theft — pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiring to s...

9 hours ago

9 hours ago

Former Fresno Farm Water Manager Pleads Guilty to Federal Water Theft Conspiracy

9 hours ago

Local Dealership Family Buys Fresno Infiniti. Where Is It Going?

10 hours ago

California Bill Would End ‘Gender Police’ Reports From Public Schools to Parents

10 hours ago

Councilmembers Want Answers on Lawsuit. We Have Them.

11 hours ago

Fresno Toddler Receives Support With a Donated Mobility Ramp

12 hours ago

Fresno Catholic Diocese Will File Bankruptcy Because of Sexual Abuse Claims: Bishop Brennan

13 hours ago

Storm Damage Forces Removal of US-Built Gaza Pier for Repairs

13 hours ago

Lexi Thompson, a 15-Time Winner on the LPGA Tour, Is Retiring From Full-Time Golf at 29

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend