A professor at Long Island's Stony Brook University faces up to 20 years in prison following his arrest Thursday on federal charges of stealing more than $200,000 in government funds meant for cancer research, prosecutors say.
Geoffrey Girnun, an associate professor in the Department of Pathology and Director of Cancer Metabolomics at the Renaissance School of Medicine, also faces wire fraud and money laundering charges.
The 48-year-old from Woodmere is accused of forming shell companies that purportedly provided research items and equipment for his cancer-related research. He then allegedly submitted fraudulent invoices to Stony Brook University for payment to the shell companies to cover the equipment and services that were never received.
The college used funds from the National Institutes of Health and other grants to pay the fraudulent invoices, the federal indictment says.
Court papers say Girnun transferred the funds into his personal bank account and used them for personal expenses, including payments toward his home mortgage.
"Professor Girnun’s alleged theft of federal and state grant funds earmarked for cancer research can be explained in two words: pure greed,” said U.S. Attorney Richard P. Donoghue.
Girnun appeared in federal court in Central Islip on Thursday, and was released on $250,000 bail. His next court appearence is scheduled for October 4.
In a statement, Stony Brook University said it was "outraged and appalled" by the allegations that led to the professor's arrest. Girnun’s attorney, Steven Siegal, declined comment.
"This alleged behavior is absolutely contrary to the ethical and professional standards expected of our faculty," a spokesperson said. "The University has fully cooperated with the investigation and at this time is considered by the FBI as a victim in this matter. The University has immediately placed Geoffrey Girnun on administrative leave."