Report: School continues to receive Pentagon subsidies despite probe for China ties

by WorldTribune Staff, February 26, 2017

A U.S. taxpayer-funded school in northern Virginia received more than $6 million from the Defense Department despite being investigated for alleged ties to China’s military, Fox News reported.

The University of Management and Technology (UMT) in Rosslyn, Virginia – which also has a campus in Beijing – boasts of 5,000 graduates in the past five years and claims to be “especially proud of our students stationed in U.S. military bases around the globe.”

UMT academic dean J. Davidson Frame salutes as his wife, UMT president Yanping Chen Frame, holds a Chinese military uniform.

But, “there is another side to the school’s leadership that drew the attention of the FBI, the Justice Department, the Pentagon, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) since at least 2012 – and perhaps as early as 2009,” a Fox News investigation revealed.

Multiple federal investigations have looked into the university leadership’s alleged ties to the Chinese military and whether thousands of records from U.S. service members were compromised, the report by Fox chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge said.

“In December 2012, the FBI made two very public raids of UMT and the northern Virginia home of university president Yanping Chen Frame and its academic dean, her husband J. Davidson Frame. Documents reviewed by Fox News show it was a counter-intelligence case, known as a ‘200d,’ one of the most highly sensitive categories for a federal probe,” the report said.

Photos, exclusively obtained by Fox News, appear to show Chen as a young officer in the People’s Liberation Army. Another photo shows Frame saluting his wife, Chen, who is holding a uniform. Three independent experts told Fox News it was a Chinese military colonel’s uniform.

Since the FBI raids in 2012, UMT has collected millions of dollars from the Defense Department for tuition assistance programs as well as the Department of Veterans Affairs through the post-9/11 GI bill.

“It’s a bad deal for the soldiers, and it’s a bad deal for the taxpayer,” Stephen Rhoads, a military veteran turned whistleblower who says he worked with the FBI on the case, told Fox News in an exclusive interview. “Nobody’s getting what they paid for.”

Rhoads said he worked at UMT recruiting veterans when the FBI approached him in 2012 regarding the federal investigation. Emails and other documents reviewed by Fox News corroborate key elements of Rhoads’ story.

Rhoads told Fox News that UMT recruited military personnel who provided their military history when they enrolled. “It got uploaded into an O-drive, they called it … their personal military bio, you know, where they were trained, how they were trained, how long, that could be remotely accessed.”

Rhoads said Chen had a particular interest in Ohio’s Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which is a research and technology hub.

And there was more. “She wanted me to go out to these remote reserve and National Guard centers, you know … in small-town America and start gettin’ U.S. soldiers from those centers. Get their information, basically. Who’s out there in the woods? How many units we got?”

Undated photo appears to show Yanping Chen Frame before she came to a U.S. graduate school.

“One of the first sentences she [Chen] ever threw out – after she found out I was an Army officer, was, ‘Well … I was a colonel in the army,’ ” Rhoads said. “During our first face-to-face encounter, absolutely … she did not deny it.”

Rhoads said he thought Chen meant the U.S. Army, and asked whether she trained in Texas. “She laughed and said, ‘Oh, no, I was in the Chinese army, you know.’ ”

Rhoads says Chen was upfront about serving in the Chinese military, but hid those ties on immigration applications. Fox News reviewed Chen’s immigration records where she consistently denied ties to the Chinese or any foreign military. When asked, “Have you ever been a member of, or in any way affiliated with, the communist party or any other totalitarian regime?” Chen checked “no.” She would later become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

While there are no U.S. laws preventing a naturalized citizen from running a school like UMT, the Fox News investigation found that Chen’s ties to the Chinese military appear to run deep.

Three outside experts consulted by Fox News confirmed the authenticity of the Chinese uniforms in the photos of Chen and Frame.

“If somebody was wearing that uniform, I would say that there’s a very great likelihood that they were in the People’s Liberation Army,” Dennis Blasko, a leading Chinese military expert said, referring to the photo of what appears to be Chen in uniform.

Asked about the photo of Frame saluting his wife, Blasko observed, “This is a PLA officer’s uniform – active duty – from between 1987 and 2007 … And from the epaulettes, we can see this – three stars and two red stripes would be a full colonel.”

Blasko emphasized that PLA insignia can only be purchased with the permission of the Chinese military, and “you would have to have a certificate from your unit to buy [it.]”

In her 2012 FBI interview, Chen denied she ever was a colonel in the PLA, emphasizing she had worked as a doctor in the Chinese space program. Chen said it was a “civilian agency.”

No charges have been filed in connection with the investigations into UMT.

Sources told Fox News that Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia James P. Gilllis got the case, “but there was a disagreement with the FBI over how to proceed, based on the case law and the extent to which sources and methods would be revealed.”