(STL.News) – Earlier today, in federal court in Central Islip, 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 (SBU), pleaded guilty to theft of government funds from cancer-related research grants issued by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The plea proceeding was held before United States District Judge Denis R. Hurley. Girnun resigned his position at SBU in December 2019. When sentenced, Girnun faces up to 10 years in prison, as well as restitution, forfeiture and a fine to be determined.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, announced the guilty plea.
“With today’s guilty plea, Girnun has been held accountable for his unconscionable scheme to embezzle for his personal use hundreds of thousands of dollars in government funds that were intended to help find a cure for cancer,” stated United States Attorney Donoghue. Mr. Donoghue thanked the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office, and the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General, for their investigative work on the case.
Between December 2013 and December 2017, Girnun stole approximately $78,000 in NIH funds that were earmarked for cancer research. He then used those funds to pay for personal expenses, including payments on his home mortgage. At his guilty plea proceeding today, Girnun agreed to pay restitution in the amount of $225,000, which includes the NIH funds and approximately $147,000 from SBU’s foundation and state-sponsored grants.
Girnun has a doctorate degree in cancer biology and while employed at SBU, served as a principal investigator for various research projects.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s Long Island Criminal Division. Assistant United States Attorney Erin E. Argo and Madeline O’Connor are in charge of the prosecution.