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Professor allegedly misused funds, made students work for free

Lexington Herald-Leader

LEXINGTON - A former University of Kentucky professor faked invoices, made graduate students work for his private consulting business for free while he pocketed more than $1 million, and ultimately misused more than $400,000, UK officials alleged Wednesday.

The allegations against Dongping "Daniel" Tao have been turned over to local, state and federal authorities for possible criminal charges.

The university completed two investigations of Tao, a mining engineering professor who was hired at UK in 1996. The investigations began last fall after a graduate student complained that work for Tao's private clients went uncompensated.

Tao resigned in December after being confronted with the allegations.

"The university is deeply disappointed by the serious misconduct that has taken place, and we have undertaken a serious response," UK spokesman Jay Blanton said. "Much has been done already in terms of strengthening policies, processes and procedures. But more needs to be done, and we are steadfastly committed at all levels of the university to doing so."

The university's audits of Tao, which contain only summary information, make several allegations, including:

n From 2008 to 2013, Tao allegedly created fake invoices totaling more than $62,000 for travel, hotels and meals. He allegedly billed the university and consulting clients for the same expenses.

n Tao allegedly fabricated or changed invoices for consulting work totaling more than $31,000.

n Tao allegedly routinely required visiting scholars and graduate students to work on his private consulting activities. In violation of university policy, students received no compensation for those activities.

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