Stony Brook professor allegedly stole more than $200K in cancer research funds

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(STONY BROOK, N.Y.) -- A Stony Brook University professor was indicted for stealing upward of $200,000 in cancer research funds, authorities said Thursday.

Geoffrey Girnun, 48, is an associate professor in the department of pathology and director of cancer metabolomics at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, and allegedly "submitted fraudulent invoices" for equipment from "sham companies" to "conceal his theft of funds from cancer-related research grants," the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Eastern District of New York said in a statement.

"Professor Girnun's alleged theft of federal and state grant funds earmarked for cancer research can be explained in two words: pure greed," United States Attorney Donoghue said in a statement. "He will now be held to account in a federal courtroom."

The attorney's office announced that he was charged in a seven-count indictment with theft of state and federal government funds, wire fraud and money laundering.

The charges stem from incidents that occurred around 2013 and 2017, when Girnun allegedly formed two "shell companies" that "purportedly provided research items and equipment for the defendant's cancer-related research projects," according to the attorney's office.

As part of the elaborate scam, Girnun then allegedly submitted fraud invoices to SBU, asking for payments. SBU used more than $200,000 worth of National Institutes of Health and SBU funds that were for cancer research to pay the fake companies, the attorney's office said.

Girnun's lawyer, Steven A. Metcalf, told Newsday they were "shocked" by the charges. Girnun appeared in court Thursday and pleaded not guilty.

He was released on $250,000 bond.

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. called the professor's actions "despicable."

"As millions of Americans place their faith in programs established to fund cancer-related research, Geoffrey Girnun, a professor, allegedly siphoned money from grant funds established for this very purpose," Sweeney said in a statement.

"While people continued to suffer from their illnesses, Girnun made payments toward his personal mortgage with the money he stole," he added. "His conduct is despicable, and it won't be tolerated."

If convicted, Girnun faces up to 20 years in prison, authorities said.

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