Kansas AG dismisses case against former KU researcher; charges could be refiled

photo by: Douglas County Sheriff's Office

Liuqi Gu, pictured in December 2019

A year after a University of Kansas researcher was charged with felony theft and other charges, the state has moved to dismiss the case.

However, the motion that Assistant Attorney General Paul Brothers filed Tuesday indicates that the case could be refiled.

“Recent developments in the case necessitate further investigation,” the motion states. “The State is seeking a dismissal of the case to allow sufficient time to conduct the necessary additional investigation.”

Liuqi Gu, 38, was a postdoctoral student employed as a lab technician at KU’s Ecology & Evolutionary Biology Laboratory, studying DNA of butterflies, according to court documents.

The complaint filed against Gu alleged that he falsely represented that purchases he made from Thermo-Fisher Scientific — specifically, equipment that replicates DNA for research — were for KU so that he could receive discounts. It also alleged that he used confidential information that he acquired during his employment with KU to avoid paying sales taxes between $25,000 and $100,000.

A special agent for the Kansas attorney general’s office alleged in an affidavit supporting Gu’s charges that he had made 28 purchases of scientific equipment and, using a discount through KU, got all of it for about half price. The total of list prices on the equipment was $819,475; Gu paid $412,298, and personally shipped the equipment to contacts in China, the agent wrote. Those allegations have not been proven in court.

Altogether, Gu was charged Dec. 9, 2019, with four felonies, theft in excess of $100,000, theft between $25,000 and $100,000, unlawful acts concerning computers and making false information; plus two misdemeanors, official misconduct and failure to pay state sales tax.

Gu’s case had been set for an all-day evidentiary hearing, after which the judge would have determined whether to bind him over for trial, on Thursday. Instead, the judge signed an order agreeing to the state’s request to dismiss the case without prejudice.

Gu was released from the Douglas County Jail on a $100,000 own-recognizance bond about a week after he was arrested and charged, jail records show. He was also banned from KU’s campus “until further notice” on Dec. 9, 2019, according to a document the Journal-World received through an open records request.

Gu was employed at KU from July 2015 through Dec. 21, 2019, according to Erinn Barcomb-Peterson, a spokesperson for the university.

Contact Mackenzie Clark

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Aug. 8, 2020: Records: Those actively banned from KU’s campus include some from ticket scandal, convicted violent criminals

Dec. 9, 2019: KU researcher charged with felony theft, official misconduct and more

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