Ex-Professor Paid Mortgage With Cancer Research Grants

January 17, 2020

A former cancer researcher at Stony Brook University pleaded guilty this week to using $225,000 in grant funding for personal expenses, including his home mortgage, according to Newsday. Geoffrey Girnun, who was an associate professor of pathology at Stony Brook’s medical school until resigning in December, admitted to theft of $78,000 in government funds as part of a plea deal. He misused grant money from both the National Institutes of Health and Stony Brook, Newsday reported, by creating shell companies for fake research equipment and services. Girnun allegedly began submitting false invoices to Stony Brook in 2013, shortly after he began working there. Michael Yaeger, Girnun’s attorney, said that he "regrets his actions and takes full responsibility." The plea deal involves restitution of $225,000 to the NIH and to Stony Brook, and forfeiture of another $225,000.

Eastern District U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said in a statement that Girnun was "held accountable for his unconscionable scheme to embezzle for his personal use hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funds to help find a cure for cancer." Lauren Sheprow, a spokeswoman for Stony Brook, said in a separate statement that Girnun’s "behavior is absolutely contrary to the ethical and professional standards expected of our faculty," and that he has "no remaining affiliation" to the university.

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