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Former Stony Brook University Professor Sentenced For Stealing Cancer Research Funds

Geoffrey Girnun
Geoffrey Girnun Photo Credit: Stony Brook University

An ex-professor at Stony Brook University will spend time in prison after admitting to stealing state and federal funding that was earmarked for cancer research.

Geoffrey Girnun, a former Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Director of Cancer Metabolomics at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University has been sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to theft of government funds from cancer-related research grants issued by the National Institutes of Health.

Acting U.S. Attorney Seth DuCharme said that between December 2013 and December 2017, Girnun created two sham companies, Atlas Metabolomics, LLC, and Empyrean Biosciences, LLC that purportedly provided research items and equipment for Girnun's cancer-related research projects. 

From December 2013 through September 2019, Girnun submitted fraudulent electronic invoices to Stony Brook University for payment to the sham companies for equipment, goods, and services that were never received or provided. 

Stony Brook University then used the National Institutes of Health and the university’s grant and foundation funds to pay the sham companies more than $200,000. 

Girnun then withdrew the grant funds from Atlas and Empyrean’s bank accounts and used the money for personal expenses, including payments toward the mortgage on his residence and tuition for his children.

As part of his guilty plea, Girnun agreed to pay $225,000 in restitution, which includes the National Institutes of Health funds and approximately $147,000 from SBU’s foundation and state-sponsored grants.

“The defendant’s theft of cancer research funds undermined the important mission of the National Institute of Health, Stony Brook University and his fellow researchers, who are dedicated to curing this deadly illness,” DuCharme said. “In connection with today’s sentence, which provides punishment for his offense, the defendant also will be required to pay back every penny he diverted from the fight against cancer.”

Following his arrest, Girnun resigned from his position at Stony Brook University in December last When he is sentenced, Girnun, 49, of Woodmere, had faced up to 20 years in prison. 

“Stealing cancer research funds solely to line your own pockets is an outrageous crime. Today’s sentence demonstrates that society will not tolerate fraudsters like Dr. Girnun, who will pay for his greed-fueled scheme,” Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General Special Agent-in-Charge Scott Lampert said. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to investigate such fraud and bring perpetrators to justice.”

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