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Former University Professor Sentenced To Prison For Stealing Cancer Research Funds

Undeniably, the topic of health has been on the minds of just about everyone all throughout 2020. After all, contending with the coronavirus pandemic has called all of us to collectively think deeper about how to protect our health. As you’re well aware, a focus on hand sanitizing and mask wearing has become the norm. However, sadly, it can be argued that COVID-19 is far from the only pandemic facing our nation.

Among our other problems is health care fraud. As the Allegiant Experts Blog has long made clear, medical professionals from all walks of life continue to abuse our nation’s health insurance programs. In addition, so many others involve themselves in such activities as illegal drug distribution, kickbacks and theft.

A former university professor will do prison time for stealing cancer research funds.

According to the Eastern District of New York branch of the United States Department of Justice, Dr. Geoffrey Girnun has been sentenced to one year and a day in prison. He is a former Associate Professor and cancer researcher at Stony Brook University’s Department of Pathology of Medicine.

In January of this year, Girnun pleaded guilty to theft of government funds related to a grant he received. The grant was to support research of the effect of certain molecules on cancer. As part of his guilty plea, Girnun agreed to forfeit $225,000 and resign from his position at Stony Brook University. In addition, he was ordered to pay restitution to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Stony Brook University in the amount of $225,000.

Girnun formed two sham companies in 2013 and 2017 respectively.

Atlas Metabolomics, LLC (Atlas) and Empyrean Biosciences, LLC (Empyrean) were purportedly founded to provide research items and equipment for Girnun’s cancer-related research projects. Between approximately December 2013 and September 2019, he submitted fraudulent electronic invoices to Stony Brook University. The money received was used to pay the sham companies for equipment, goods and services that were neither received nor provided.

“Stony Brook University then used NIH and the university’s grant and foundation funds to pay the sham companies over $200,000,” the DoJ explains, “Girnun withdrew the fraudulently obtained 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.”

Seth D. DuCharme took part in announcing Girnun’s sentence yesterday.

“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,” the Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York is quoted as saying in the DoJ report, “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.”

Are you a lawyer who is currently trying a health care fraud case? Contact Allegiant Experts to find out how our clinical expertise may help your case. Our experts have been providing expert clinical services for nearly two decades. We can assist your team by bridging the disciplines of medicine, coding and billing to ensure accurate payment and data is achieved. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 407-217-5831 or email us at

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