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Tech executive from Los Altos charged in coronavirus testing scheme

A Silicon Valley tech executive from Los Altos was charged earlier this month with securities fraud and conspiracy to commit health-care fraud after he allegedly misled investors by falsely claiming to have developed a blood test for the coronavirus.

Federal prosecutors alleged that Mark Schena, 57, president of Arrayit Corp. in Sunnyvale, bribed recruiters and doctors to run allergen screening tests. He then pitched potential investors with erroneous figures and flaunted nonexistent relationships with Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, officials said in a June 9 complaint filed in the Northern District of California.

When the pandemic intensified in March, Schena allegedly misguided potential investors on Arrayit’s ability to provide testing for COVID-19. Arrayit’s stock price doubled in mid-March while Schena was promoting the fraudulent product, according to prosecutors.

“The allure of cheap, reliable alternatives to today’s standard blood-test panels has captured the imagination of the health-care industry, making such alternatives a prime subject for fraudsters,” said U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson of the Northern District of California. “The scheme described in the complaint, in which the defendant allegedly leveraged this allure by appending the fear of the COVID-19 pandemic, amounts to a cynical multimillion-dollar hoax.”

Schena earned a doctorate in biochemistry from UC San Francisco and was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. In 2003, he was dubbed the “Father of Microarray Technology” by The Scientist Magazine, and he is considered an expert on microarrays, a technology used to measure genes. His wife, Rene Schena, is CEO of Arrayit.

 

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