Stony Brook University Professor Geoffrey Girnun was arrested today on charges of stealing more than $200,000 from cancer-related research grants, according to a Department of Justice press release.
Girnun, an associate professor in the department of pathology and director of cancer metabolomics at the Renaissance School of Medicine, allegedly funneled National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant funds “for his own personal gain,” according to a seven-count indictment unsealed today.
According to the indictment, Girnun used shell companies Atlas Metabolomics LLC and Empyrean Biosciences LLC, which he formed in or around 2013, in order to skim from the funds.
Girnun “caused” the submission of false invoices for NIH grant funds for “equipment, goods and services that were never received or provided,” the indictment read. Stony Brook University and NIH allegedly paid thousands of dollars to Girnun’s companies as a result.
The indictment stated that Girnun transferred some of those funds into his own bank accounts via cash withdrawals, wire transfers and checks. He allegedly used the money to cover personal expenses, including mortgage payments on his house.
“The University is outraged and appalled by the allegations that led to the arrest of Geoffrey Girnun today,” Lauren Sheprow, media relations officer at Stony Brook University, wrote in an email. “This alleged behavior is absolutely contrary to the ethical and professional standards expected of our faculty.”
Stony Brook has “fully cooperated with the investigation” and is considered a victim by the FBI, according to Sheprow. Girnun was immediately placed on administrative leave, she said.
Girnun pleaded not guilty in Long Island federal court this afternoon and was released on a $250,000 bond, according to John Marzulli, a spokesperson from the United States Attorney’s Office. Girnun’s next court date is Oct. 4. He could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the press release. The case is being handled by the Department of Justice’s Long Island Criminal Division.
“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 for the Eastern District of New York, Richard P. Donoghue, said in the press release. “He will now be held to account in a federal courtroom.”
The attorney listed as a contact for the case did not reply to a request for comment before the article was published.
Girnun could not be reached for comment.
Karina Gerry and Andrew Zucker contributed reporting.
Correction: Sept. 22, 2019
A previous version of this story misspelled Geoffrey Girnun’s last name as “Ginrun.”